Minto prepares for future water/wastewater system needs

MINTO – Water and sewage system capacity in some areas of Minto may not be sufficient to handle rapid growth without future upgrades, council here has learned.

A report from the town’s public works and water/wastewater departments, presented at the Nov. 21 council meeting, indicates the town currently has sufficient capacity in most systems to service water and sanitary demands for developments currently approved to the draft site plan stage.

The exception is Harriston’s water system, which is currently “over-committed.”

To mitigate the shortfall, staff are undertaking a Class Environmental Assessment for Harriston and Palmerston water supply systems.

The assessment involves evaluating ways to increase the supply within both systems. Supporting background studies are currently being completed such as well exploration in Harriston and Palmerston to assist in evaluating water supply alternatives, the report states.

“We know that water capacity in Palmerston and Harrison, if all development went forward at a rapid pace, we could reach levels that are insufficient,” co-interim CAO Chris Harrow told council.

Staff also recommended development of a water and sewer allocations bylaw to manage the available water and sewage capacity for each system and “ultimately ensure responsible growth to allow the town sufficient time to develop and finance a plan to increase the capacity of our infrastructure.”

“It allows us to control growth. So we allocate so many units per year that we want to grow, instead of saying ‘We’re just going to let the throttle go and let as many go as we can,’” Harrow explained.

“Capacities for the three wastewater plants (Harriston, Palmerston and Clifford) are in decent shape, but with the potential development that is being proposed, could put us in a precarious position in the future,” the report states.

Any future expansion of the town’s wastewater plants would begin with an environmental assessment and related studies, which staff suggests could take “upwards of seven years” to complete.

“So it’s something we want to stay proactive with,” said Harrow.

Councillor Ron Elliott asked if water tower capacity in the urban centres is being included in the upcoming studies.

“The water towers are included … the one place where storage capacity has been highlighted (as a concern) in the future is Palmerston,” said Minto water services manager Mark Robertson.

“The other sites have enough capacity to get them out to the 2050 mark. But Palmerston will be something we’ll be looking at in the future.”

Council passed a motion to receive the report and direct staff to create a service allocation bylaw to be presented at a future council meeting for approval.

The report notes funds for current water system projects and studies are allocated in the 2023 and 2024 budgets.

“Future budget allocations will have to be considered depending on the projects chosen to pursue,” the report states.