Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

NRRM Acts to Preserve Ice Plant

At their September 24, 2018 meeting, Regional Council approved the replacement of ice making equipment at the Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Centre in response to a recent equipment failure. A pipe in the brine system (used to cool ice surfaces) broke, resulting in the brine draining from the chiller. If chiller tubes lose their brine, corrosive deterioration of the tubing begins immediately.

Though the system was quickly repaired and is currently operating normally, an unknown amount of corrosion has occurred, increasing the risk of premature system failure. According to the initial report by contractor Cimco Refrigeration, the “artificial ice system has been well maintained with an impeccable maintenance record”, but in their experience, chillers that have experienced a loss of brine generally fail within the year, and sometimes sooner.  Given the prospect of equipment failure, that would require the ice chiller to be taken out of service immediately, Regional Council made the decision to order replacement equipment without delay. Unfortunately, the lead time for the components is at least eight months, during which the ice chiller is at risk of failure and immediate decommissioning.

While the system is operating in its current state, an extensive monitoring program has been implemented to ensure the safety of patrons and workers as well as system integrity.  It’s important to note that although the situation bears monitoring, the Municipality has been assured it is safe to continue using the equipment and facility.

The system replacement approved also includes accelerating the chiller replacement to a state-of-the-art “plate and frame” system (originally scheduled for 2027 in the NRRM Asset Management Plan), as well as the Condenser and Heat Exchanger replacement (which are nearly at the end of their lifecycle and scheduled for replacement in 2020), to take advantage of joint cost savings.  These upgrades provide several maintenance advantages as the redesigned system uses much less water, reduces the anhydrous ammonia in use from 1,550 lbs to 270 lbs, and increases the system’s lifespan.

Aside from taking advantage of savings by coordinating ice plant replacements, this capital expense qualifies under the Infrastructure Development Contribution Agreement (IDCA), whereby the provincial government covers 50% of the costs. The NRRM is also investigating a potential insurance claim and a Northern Development Initiative Trust grant application to help reduce costs further. 

Should the system fail this winter, necessitating early shut down of the area and curling ice surfaces, alternative measures such as maintaining natural ice in the Secondary Arena through the use of outdoor air, are under consideration so that recreation activities may continue in some form for the remainder of the season.

For more information, the administration report and Cimco Refrigeration’s report are available online.

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