Ministry drops objections to wastewater plan

ERIN – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is no longer objecting to Erin’s proposed wastewater treatment project.

The ministry had been offering comments on the wastewater environmental assessment (EA), since it has expertise in water quality and fish habitat, but it is the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) that has authority over the process.

The MNRF suggested the town look for other sites for a wastewater treatment plant, currently planned for the 10th Line and Wellington Road 52, with effluent entering the river at Winston Churchill Boulevard.

The ministry urged collection of more data on the West Credit River and a plan to cool the effluent before discharging it. 

It recommended overflow tanks to handle storm surges and prevent discharge of untreated waste as the system ages, and extra treatment to reduce endocrine-disrupting compounds that can harm reproduction by feminizing male fish.

Town consultants Ainley and Associates and Hutchinson Environmental Services provided a response to explain the precautions in the EA, developed over many years at the direction of the MECP.

In a letter to Ainley, MNRF Guelph district planner Tara McKenna said the ministry “appreciates the project team’s attention to our concerns regarding the sensitivity of the stretch of the West Credit River to the brook trout population.” She  agreed MECP supervision could handle any concerns. 

The MNRF is still suggesting a “mitigation strategy” in case the wastewater effluent unexpectedly increases the river temperature.

It also suggests that since the process continues to span over many years, additional surveys of fish spawning should be done closer to the date of actual construction.

The EA is complete, but remains on hold while the environment minister decides on three local appeals.