Township submits wastewater contingency plan to ministry

A township wastewater management contingency plan calls for several upgrades to the treatment plant, including $1.3-million for a new lagoon.

The plan, ordered by the Ministry of the Environment, was completed by R.J. Burnside and Associates and submitted to the ministry last week.

The June order from provincial officer Kin Chow, states the ministry “did not concur” with the township’s emergency discharge in May, and outlines various work to be completed by the township, including the contingency plan, which should provide “a permanent solution to eliminate any potential 2009 extended spring discharge.”

The plan was to be submitted by June 30 – later extended to July 26 – and implemented by Jan. 1, 2009.

Burnside engineer Bob Mayberry told council there are six principle items in the contingency plan, including:

– building an additional lagoon cell, which will have a capacity of about 115,000 cubic metres and allow the township “to miss the spring discharge entirely, if effluent conditions dictate, and store the final effluent until the fall discharge period begins;”

– raising the elevation of the berm on lagoon cell number three, which will increase storage capacity by about 28,000m3;

– extending the fall discharge period throughout January and February to avoid ammonia concentrations as cold weather sets in and ice begins to form on cell three;

– relocating the four existing solar powered circulators, which will assist in oxygenation and ammonia removal and maintain small ice-free areas during cold winter months;

– installing an aeration system at cell number two “to meet [current and future] organic loading;” and

– extending the annual spring discharge period to May 31, which will “allow for the discharge of fully treated effluent” and should not adversely impact water quality in the Conestogo River or reservoir.

The contingency plan does not mention costs for the work, except for the new lagoon – at a price of $1,338,000.

The plan concludes that, “once fully implemented, [it] will ensure that no out-of-season discharge or emergency discharge will be required by the township in the future.”

John Burns, of Burnside and Associates, said the “most urgent” work contained in the plan is raising the berm on cell three. Unfortunately, he added, because it will increase the capacity of the cell, the work requires altering the township’s certificate of approval.

Since the township is facing time constraints, it may have to negotiate with the ministry – otherwise that process can take months, Burns noted.

Councillor Bruce Whale said any significant delays would make it “almost impossible” to address the pressures faced by the township from  developers in Drayton and Moorefield.

Clerk Patty Sinnamon said while the contingency plan is due July 26, the township has already requested a meeting with the ministry.

“They set some very strict guidelines for the municipality,” Sinnamon added, noting the township needs some quick responses if it hopes to move forward.In addition to the contingency plan, the township has hired Burnside to proceed with other work required to expand plant capacity from the current 750m3/day to 950m3/day.

That work includes a “Receiving Water Impact Assessment” (RWIA) for the Conestogo River. According to Burnside, the RWIA shows an expansion “is possible provided certain upgrades are completed.” Burnside is awaiting the ministry’s response to the assessment.

Burns said the RWIA, combined with other monitoring criteria, should help avoid discharge problems, but he hinted the response to the assessment may not be favourable.

“I’m not anticipating it will be met with open arms by the ministry,” Burns said.

He stressed that if the township can’t get its discharge issues resolved, the new lagoon is only a temporary fix.