Township’s sewer and water operations in good shape says Elder

The combined Fergus and Elora water systems are in good condition with only a few minor glitches, Public Works Director Ken Elder told council’s committee of the whole on March 2.

Elder said the township had seven occurrences where samp­ling did not meet the provincial protcols, but they were all minor. One was for lead, one was for chlorine, and five oth­ers were for total coliform counts.

He said of the lead incident, the test showed 14 parts per billion. “Anything over ten and the owner is notified,” he said, adding that older housing with lead solder can cause such readings. The solution is to run the water for 30 seconds before using it.

The find of chlorine was also small, but enough to force a report.

Councillor Bob Foster ask­ed if there are any concerns with the chemical findings.

Elder said, “No.”

Foster asked him, “Is it cor­rect to say these are trace amounts in the water?’

“Correct,” said Elder.

Elder explained he present­ed the Fergus and Elora water reports jointly, because those sys­tems are now merged.

Sew­ersystems, though, are still sep­arate.

He said that there were two bypasses at the Elora plant in 2008.

He said that one of them was for 25 gallons, and it took place near Mill Street.

Another occurred in Janu­ary when inflows were parti­cu­larly high. The Ministry of En­vironment was notified imme­diately of both events.

Elder added that for the January bypass event, the township added chlorine to the water and did partial cleaning before allowing the effluent into the river.

Councillor Fred Morris asked how much effluent is bypassed on average.

Elder said it is difficult to say, and it often depends on the weather. He said that the last event there was 27,000 cubic metres coming into the plant, and it missed one of the three treatments.

Elder added that the MOE is looking at inflow and infiltra­tion problems, which can occur from improperly connected sump pumps, poor catch basins, old pipes and simply too much rain or a heavy melt, which brings too much water to the plant at one time. He noted that infiltration is a problem faced  by every municipally run sewage treatment plant in North America.

One mitigating factor in the spills is they usually occur in times when large amounts of water are in the river, so there is more dilution and no danger to water users downstream.

Elder also noted that one muni­cipality empties its sew­age lagoon over a three month period, but that is considered a single incident, compared to the one in Elora with only 25 gal­lons, which is also consid­ered by the province as a single incident.

Councillor Shawn Watters asked how many bypass inci­dents there are yearly.

Elder said the two last year are “high” and added there was one this year already during the February melt.

“We’re seeing fiercer events in the last three to four years,” he said of big storms.

Watters asked if work at the Elora treatment plant will help.

Elder said not only will it help, but, “If we don’t get it done, we’re facing a major disaster.”

The township applied for an infrastructure grant but was turned down in the last round of funding two weeks ago.

Elder noted that the increas­ed storage capacity was sup­pos­ed to be completed with pro­vincial help in 2007, and the township is renting storage capacity for now.

Councillor Bob Foster said, “Ultimately, people are con­cerned what goes into the river. There’s nothing completely raw [in sewage] now?”

Elder said there is not. It all gets at least partial treatment and any spills are further di­luted by high runoff.

Council approved the water and sewer reports.