Erin changes scope of wastewater EA

Erin council has voted 4-1 in favour of changing the scope of the town’s wastewater environmental assessment to include subsurface disposal from multiple wastewater treatment systems.

Joe Mullan and Gary Scott of Ainley and Associates Limited were at the Jan. 17 council meeting to request the change and additional funds to widen the scope of the EA.

The Servicing and Settlement Master Plan and EA terms of reference indicate the study is to focus on a “single plant solution for the entire Erin and Hillsburgh study area, with the plant being located downstream of Erin Village and discharging treated effluent to the West Credit River,” states a letter from Ainley.

Interim CAO Derek McCaughan stressed to council that subsurface disposal from multiple wastewater treatment systems “is not part of the current terms of reference.”

He noted, “if it is viable, this represents significant additional costs to the community and additional costs in the overall review.”

However, McCaughan said the consequences of not pursuing this alternative could potentially be an appeal to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change at the completion of the EA.

The current terms of reference also allow investigation into subsurface disposal for a single wastewater treatment plant.

“This issue was raised by members of Transition Erin. So issues raised during the public process, obviously we’d have to look at,” said Scott.

“It was clear it really hadn’t been looked at in fine detail (in the SSMP) and so that kind of leaves us with a little bit of a hole in the class EA process.”

Mullan added, “For the bigger picture, I think it is worthwhile looking at, not only to protect against a part two order in the future but to have a solid and robust document that hopefully answers and addresses all of the concerns and questions that are either being raised by the members of the public or some community groups.”

After the Transition Erin meeting, the town asked Ainley to advise them on the multiple wastewater treatment systems alternative.

The report recommends that Ainley evaluate the viability of this alternative, which would take approximately four weeks and cost $31,500. In the meantime, the planned public information night would be delayed.

Mayor Allan Alls asked director of finance Ursula D’Angelo if the town had the funds for this project.

“Right now … we have not planned for it. However, we do have some reserves so there’s the infrastructure reserve that we would be able to use for this side of the project,” said D’Angelo.

Alls added, “sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make sure you’re doing the right thing all the way around and to make sure the community understands why we’ve gone the way we have.”

Councillor Matt Sammut did not agree.

“$30,000 is a half a percent increase in our taxes in our community, so every $10,000 makes a difference,” said Sammut.

Council passed the resolution allowing Ainley to explore the viability of utilizing a decentralized wastewater treatment plant with subsurface disposal for wastewater at a cost of $31,500.

The resolution passed 4-1 with Sammut opposed.