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"We will take this moneyand run with it"

Tribune-Express, vendredi 22 février 2008

"We will take this moneyand run with it"

"We are going to take this money and run with it," said Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois last Friday after learning the federal government will contribute up to $2,630,000 towards the overhaul of the town's problem-plagued sewage treatment plant.

"This is a kick start," Charlebois told Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP Pierre Lemieux who had announced the funding for improvements to the Main Street facility.

The town is now banking on the Ontario government to cover the remainder of the cost of upgrading the plant which since early 2005 has not complied with provincial standards and has prompted legal action by the government against the town.

A price tag on the improvements is expected to be known in March or April, when a report on possible options and costs will be submitted to town council by the Thompson Rosemont Group engineering firm."I do not want to start tossing out figures. I don't want to scare people," Charlebois commented.

Last fall, Thompson Rosemont Group representatives said that a new plant could cost $35 million to $40 million. A cheaper alternative, improving the existing plant, would reduce the bill to $30 million or less.Meanwhile, the court case against the municipality is scheduled to resume in March. Discussions have been taking place between the town and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment which has charged the town because it has failed to ensure the Main Street facility meets provincial regulations.

Under conventional cost-sharing deals, the municipality would have to foot one-third of the bill with the balance being equally shared by the federal and provincial governments.

One of the big problems with the current facility is its lack of sludge storage capacity. While the plant produces about 14,000 cubic metres of sludge annually, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, which runs the plant, disposes of about 6,000 cubic metres, mostly by spreading it on farmland. The other 8,000 cubic metres of waste go into the nearby Ottawa River.Built in 1978, the plant was owned and operated by the Ontario government until the province transferred the facility to the municipality in 1994.

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