Given favourable weather conditions and successful testing results, the new Niagara-on-the-Lake wastewater treatment plant could be accepting town sewage by late March or early April.
It was originally scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, “and it’s been a nightmare” getting it to this point, Ron Tripp, interim CAO of Niagara Region told NOTL councillors Monday.
Tripp and regional engineer Joe Tonellato were at council with an update on the plant — an update Coun. Gary Burroughs called “disappointing,” although he thanked them for the information they presented.
The equipment is all in place and operational, but there is a 14-day test putting water through it “in the next few weeks,” and assuming that’s successful, another 14-day testing period introducing sewage to the plant. Again, assuming that is successful, a 30-day commissioning period will begin, leading to the time estimate of late March.
There are still some “deficiencies” to be worked out, including insulation and siding on the digester Tonellato told councillors.
Tripp said he didn’t want to go into the reasons for the lengthy delay in completing the project, which has been under one general contractor — the process is leading down a path to legal action, he said.
The next step is decommissioning the the lagoons, he said, which will be filled up, according to the environmental assessment completed in December.
That option was not what the Harmony Group has been working toward for more than a decade, but it is the solution Parks Canada has agreed to, said Tripp.
In addition to filling in the lagoons, creating a riverine wetland which will allow for natural flooding, the decommissioning project will establish the “original meander” of Two Mile Creek, with the design expected to be completed this year and construction to begin in 2020 “pending approvals.”
Burroughs said following the meeting he was “more than disappointed” to know the wetlands won’t be retained. Up until recently, he thought that was the preferred option, he said.
The project has come in close to budget, at about $50 million, and will deliver enhanced and expanded wastewater treatment services for the Old Town and Virgil, covering an area of about 6,000 people.