by Deron Johnston
North Grenville Municipal Council received an update at Committee of the Whole on May 7, in the form of an Environmental Study Report (ESR) Addendum from environmental consultants at J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd. (JLR) about both the current and future status of North Grenville’s Water and Wastewater system.
JLR was involved in performing a Schedule ‘C’ Class Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2010, of which 4 of the 5 phases were completed. Though Phase 5 (the implementation component) was initiated by the Municipality of North Grenville, according to the update by JLR, “due to financial constraints and planning updates which were predicted to impact the outcome of the 2010 Class EA, implementation of the proposed upgrades identified within the 2010 ESR were deferred”.
According to the Municipal Class EA Process, since the original EA was done in 2010, there have been changes in population projections, changes in technology, changes in forecasted wastewater flows, and changes in potential project costs. This ESR Addendum was required to address these changes. Normally, a brand new EA would be required every ten years, but, because of the above changes, an addendum was permitted instead, at considerably less cost.
Currently, the wastewater treatment system is operating at approximately 65% capacity, which in itself is not cause for concern. However, as advised by J.L. Richards, when there are heavy rain events, the intake occasionally spikes up to full capacity. The reason is that the wastewater system absorbs groundwater caused by rain and then ends up processing or “cleaning” that groundwater, even though it doesn’t need to be.
When it was built, the current treatment facility was state-of-the-art and, thanks to proper maintenance, is still operating efficiently and, with system repairs, capacity has even increased. Despite this, the capacity still needs to be increased further, with the projected population increases in the coming years. The suggested method to achieve this increase is by “twinning” or “cloning” the major components of the current facility, and therefore doubling capacity. A reservoir will also be constructed to accommodate peak flows due to heavy rain events, which allow this water to be processed at a later date.
In the ESR Addendum, the total estimated costs for the proposed upgrades of the North Grenville wastewater treatment facilities, to be carried out over nine years, is $31 million. This was a decrease from the 2010 estimate of just over $37 million. It is anticipated that these costs will be covered by future development charges (the current development charges will be updated by the fall), current water and wastewater reserve funds, and through grants and loans from the federal and provincial governments. The upgrades will also be rolled out in phases, with $14.1 million being the estimated cost for Phase 1. It is anticipated that no funding for these upgrades will come from general taxation revenues.