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Wastewater solution price tag now $42 million

The Review, mercredi 19 mars 2008

Wastewater solution price tag now $42 million

By André Dumont

HAWKESBURY - MP Pierre Lemieux's promise to contribute $2.6 million towards Hawkesbury's wastewater treatment problem won't help much.

On Monday, council found out that any immediate and permanent solution would cost anywhere between $26 and $42 million. That is far more than the $7.8 million that would be pulled together if the town found the $5.2 million (two-thirds of the project) necessary to qualify for the federal grant Lemieux announced in February.

Cornwall consulting firm Thompson Rosemount presented council with four "alternatives" Monday evening.

The first one involved doing nothing. It would also cost nothing. However, the town's wastewater treatment plant is currently at full capacity and is not always complying with its certifi cate of approval.

"Doing nothing doesn't provide a solution to any of the problems," consultant Marco Vincelli said.

Even without considering an expansion, existing wastewater treatment equipment is in for $3 million worth of repairs and replacements, Vincelli pointed out.

Alternative B would involve expanding and optimizing the existing plant using the same treatment process. Nine additional aeration tanks would be required.

This option would cost between $26.4 and $42.2 million, depending whether future regulation requires full nitrification. These estimates include capital costs, engineering costs of 12 per cent and contingency costs of 20 per cent.

Building a new wastewater treatment plant on the existing site (Alternative C) would cost approximately $39.6 million. Four different technologies are considered. The new construction would incorporate as much of the existing infrastructure as possible in order to minimize capital and operating costs.

Alternative D would involve building a new plant on a new site. This would cost about $52.8 million. The only location identified was the CIP grounds in the Western part of town. Thompson Rosemount consultants do not recommend this alternative be considered.

These figures are "plus 50 per cent to minus 30 per cent" estimates, said Thompson Rosemount's Rick Eamon. In the next phase of the ongoing Class Environmental Assessment Process, estimates should become more precise (plus or minus 10 per cent), Eamon said.

Eamon believes the town of Hawkesbury has good chances of qualifying for an upcoming fourth round of Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) federal-provincial infrastructure grants. He says other municipalities have successfully requested larger amounts for similar projects.

"The strength of your application is that you are non-compliant," Eamon said.

"I think the strength of our application is that we were given the plant (by the province) in 1998," Mayor Jeanne Charlebois said.

Charlebois later told The Review she expected the dollar figures for an upgrade or a new wastewater treatment plant to be around $40 million. She suggested the $2.6 million federal contribution could be used to address the $3 million immediate repairs and replacements required for the plant to operate properly.

Charlebois asked Thompson Rosemount representatives whether a private-public partnership was possible. She was told this possibility could be entertained, but that the private sector was not eligible for infrastructure grants.

Currently, the average daily flow is at 91 per cent of the plant's rate capacity of 12,274 cubic meters per day.

Thompson Rosemount suggests the town's wastewater treatment capacity be raised to 13,788 cubic meters per day. This would allow for a 1.1 per cent yearly increase over 20 years.

"If we make a decision now, I want to make sure it is good for 20 years," Charlebois said.

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