Township considering county request to treat landfill leachate in Mount Forest

KENILWORTH – Wellington North council is considering the long-term treatment of leachate from Wellington County’s landfill site at a township facility.

On Sept. 23, Wellington North councillors agreed, in principle, to receive and treat leachate from the Riverstown landfill that will be piped to the township’s Mount Forest Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

Still required is a detailed engineered feasibility assessment, in partnership with Wellington County – at zero cost to the township’s water-sewer ratepayers. The results of the assessment would be reviewed at a future township council meeting.

Wellington North was recently approached about the possibility by Wellington County, the owner/operator of the Riverstown landfill near Kenilworth.

In his report to council, township director of operations Matthew Aston stated phase two of the Riverstown landfill site will provide a disposal location for solid waste generated within the county.

“A critical component of the new phase will be an engineered leachate collection system that will capture liquid waste for treatment, ensuring it will not infiltrate into the surrounding environment,” stated Aston.

His report notes one of the treatment options available is municipal waste water treatment plants.

He added township staff consulted with BM Ross and Associates and the Ontario Clean Water Agency about the proposal.

In a letter to council BM Ross summarized the potential impact as being the equivalent of 17 to 66 residential homes.

‘‘In summary, based on preliminary information provided to us by the county, it is our opinion that Riverstown Landfill Phase II leachate can be expected to be successfully managed and co-treated at the Mount Forest WWTP at the proposed flow rates, subject to future detailed evaluations,” states the BM Ross report.

The letter further noted the Mount Forest WWTP’s Environmental Compliance Approval would need to be updated before it can accept the landfill leachate, inclusive of any associated new works and additional monitoring/record keeping requirements.

Councillor Steve McCabe asked if the township would be accepting leachate generated by the whole county.

In short, Mayor Lennox replied “yes.” He explained the Riverstown site is the only active landfill location in the county.

Lennox added phase one of the landfill site did not require an official leachate collection system, but that portion of the landfill is almost full.

Phase two will open under new provincial legislation which requires a leachate collection system, “And if you collect it, you have to do something with it.”

Lennox said the initial discussion is to treat the leachate in Mount Forest. Otherwise the material would need to be stored and shipped to another location for treatment.

“When I first came across the idea, I thought it would be extremely expensive to pipe the leachate to Mount Forest. But the other options are not inexpensive either,” said Lennox.

He noted there are some advantages to having a landfill site within the municipality that is more accessible to local businesses and residents.

He agreed dealing with the leachate will provide challenges such as using up potential sewage treatment capacity for Mount Forest.

Councillor Sherry Burke asked if this would entail a long-term commitment from the township.

“This would be in perpetuity,” Lennox said.

CAO Mike Givens said that based on conversations with the county, “this is being viewed as Option A.”

“While there are options, this is viewed as the most financially viable.”

Lennox added there is not enough leachate being produced at the landfill site to warrant a treatment facility.

“In terms of the greater good for Wellington County, this is probably the best option,” he said.

Lennox added the township should not be responsible for an unfair portion of the costs.

Burke reiterated her concern about the potential loss of sewage allocation for Mount Forest.

Givens agreed there are unknowns and sewage allocation is an important factor for economic development.

“Staff here are well in tune with the importance of sewage allocation to the community,” said Givens.

Councillor Dan Yake asked about financial compensation from the county. Lennox said that is something still to be negotiated.

Lennox agreed the township should be compensated fairly if the treatment plant is required to be modified or expanded to accommodate the leachate.

“While this would be for the greater good, we should not be giving sewage allocation away for free,” he added.

Yake contended, “ultimately, the capital costs are the township’s responsibility.” Lennox stated, “This is just a preliminary discussion.”