Hornpayne settles on less costly wastewater solution

HORNEPAYNE – The Hornepayne Wastewater Plant has been forced to switch from a planned ultraviolet-based dechlorination system to a more affordable chemical process based on a recommendation from the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).

The move from UV to a chemical-based process comes in the wake of the federal wastewater systems effluent regulations which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The regulation states that “annual average total residual chlorine must be below 0.02 mg/L on the effluent.”

To meet the demands of the regulation, the township of Hornepayne reached an agreement with the ministry of environment, conservation, and parks (MECP) and OCWA to use dechlorination pucks until a UV system could be installed.

Ultimately, the council received two bids for UV installation – totalling around $2.6 million and $5.4 million dollars, respectively – well over the project’s initial projected budget of just over $1 million dollars.

“The UV we’re just not able to afford – even a larger community couldn’t afford that," said Coun. Drago Stefanic.

In a letter provided to the council, OCWA’s senior operations manager Patrick Albert stated that the rise in costs can be mostly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon assessment of their options and with the support of OCWA, the township is planning to complete construction of a packaged plant that employs a chemical dechlorination process for lower “upfront costs.”

The goal for completion of the project is the summer of 2024.

In the meantime, OCWA will continue to use dechlorination pucks.

It was crucial that the township’s council reach an agreement about next steps before chief administrative officer Aileen Singh could continue oversight of the project.

All councillors agreed that OCWA’s recommendation was the right move for Hornepayne, but Mayor Cheryl Fort took things a step further by insinuating that the province should bear some of the cost.

“I think this is a good push to the province – to do a delegation on this,” said Fort. “This is an item where… we get the downloading or we have to make changes to our systems and follow regulation, and then there’s no help available to do that.”

Fort’s comments come as no surprise with costs rising across the province.

Now, the council awaits an assessment of the exact price-point for this new project with bated breath – and, with the hope that it will meet the target completion date.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,