Beaverlodge explores $4.5M in lagoon upgrades

·2 min read

Beaverlodge will need $4.5 million in upgrades to its wastewater lagoon to meet Alberta Environment’s design standards, according to Associated Engineering.

Associated Engineering representatives made its report to town council during the regular meeting last week.

“We have to make sure what we’re dumping in the river meets the quality it needs to,” said mayor Gary Rycroft.

An upgrade is necessary because the wastewater lagoon is currently discharged into Beaverlodge River twice per year when once would be ideal under provincial guidelines, he said.

Rycroft said the cost is concerning to the town, and while federal and provincial grants may be accessible the town would have to contribute as well.

It’s uncertain at this time what the town’s expense would be, he said.

During last week’s meeting Grant Dixon, an Associated Engineering manager, suggested the town apply for Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP) grant funding.

(Wembley received a $2.1 million AMWWP grant for its lagoon two years ago, to go toward lagoon expansion.)

The deadline to apply for AMWWP funding is Nov. 30, Dixon told council.

Rycroft said the work isn’t needed all at once, and the town is investigating how to go about the funding.

It’s uncertain when the upgrade will be done given the number of stakeholders that need to be consulted, including the federal and provincial environmental departments, he said.

Another stakeholder is Alberta Transportation, which is planning for the highway bypass to go through the current lagoon location, he said.

The highway and railroad will fill in part of the lagoon at an undetermined date.

Rycroft said Alberta Transportation should shoulder some of the costs, since the new bypass will necessitate some of the changes there.

The discharge into the Beaverlodge River doesn’t affect drinking water quality, as water is drawn upstream before spilling into the freshwater lagoon, he said.

The impact to fish is a big concern, Rycroft said.

Beaverlodge began discharging the wastewater lagoon twice annually approximately three years ago, he said.

To reduce the impact to fish, he said the town began taking extra measures over the last few months to remove harmful ammonia.

The changes in treatment became necessary because of lower flow in the Beaverlodge River this year compared to the last few years, he said.

Rycroft said insufficient flow can lead to greater concentration of the treated wastewater, which may contain too much ammonia.

Sean Nicoll, Associated Engineering’s Grande Prairie manager, told council last week discharges take place in the fall and spring.

While fall discharges aren’t expected to pose a risk to fish, springtime discharges come closer to running afoul of guidelines, he said.

Dixon explained spring weather is less conducive to treating ammonia.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News