OCWA report suggests much of Mini Lakes wastewater equipment should be replaced

ABERFOYLE – The Ontario Clean Water Agency reports the Mini Lakes Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) “is starting to see serious degradation in performance of the system.”

OCWA reports there are  numerous issues with pump operation and maintenance (rails and chains), the chemical feed system for alum and micro carbon requires replacement, and the control system has issues with data integrity.

“In summary, the Mini Lakes WWTP has entered the point of its operational life where much of the original equipment, will require replacement,” states the report.

“The control systems, chemical feed systems, and many of the system’s pumps all require replacement over the next few years in order to continue with present level of operation. Alternatives to individual equipment replacement have been presented to Mini Lakes as part of the ‘trade-off study’ report.”

At the July 17 Puslinch council meeting, councillor Matthew Bulmer said this may be difficult news for residents of Mini Lakes to digest.

“One … positive is that there is an offer to go to another technology that has the capacity to finally achieve the parameters originally set out by the OMB,” said Bulmer. “My expectation is if and when the system is replaced with a new system, I’m hoping this municipality will be seeking that the certificate of approval better reflect what the original approval was based upon. Right now there have been several amendments and it is very far from what was originally envisioned for the place.

“If I could see a silver lining, it would be the requirement to update the system.”

A further OCWA report states the condition of Mini Lakes’ water and wastewater treatment systems do not guarantee safe and reliable operation nor compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements.

“In general, most of the assets currently in place (especially the main process equipment and components) have surpassed their life expectancy and in some cases its day-to-day operation is unreliable,” states the report.

“Under such circumstances, it is critical that a replacement program be started in order to prevent costly emergency repairs or compliances issues that could put at risk the health and safety of the residents of Mini Lakes.

“To capture the magnitude of these upgrades in better detail, developing a “Class 5” cost estimate, and a Comprehensive Capital Plan (CCP) is recommended.”

In her report to council, township consultant Amanda Pepping, of GM BluePlan, stated that “based on the information provided in the 2018 annual report by OCWA for the Mini Lakes water treatment system, we are satisfied based on the information provided that the system was operated in compliance with O. Reg. 170/03 during the reporting period.

“As a number of items were identified as in need of further maintenance or upgrades, we ask that subsequent reports update on the progress of the recommended works, capital and operating improvements as well as close monitoring of HPC levels in 2019.”

Councillor John Sepulis stated the detailed reports explained the concerns.

Bulmer asked if the Mini Lakes condominium association had decided to replace various pieces of equipment.

Pepping responded “that is not entirely my understanding.” She said there was a high level study undertaken by OCWA which looked at various options, but also mentioned an optimization study which would take a closer look at optimizing the existing system – before a decision is made.

“I believe a more comprehensive study is being taken before a final decision is made.” She expected that report to be available shortly.

Councillor Ken Roth asked if there is a time frame to resolve the issues, noting, “It seems the problems are increasing with every report we get.” He added, “I think it is something we need to stay on top of. We don’t want the township ending up as owner of the system.”