Midland poised to implement expansions, upgrades to wastewater treatment system

·5 min read

Midland will have to dump up to $24 million in the next 20 years or so to clean up its wastewater system.

The estimate was presented in a final wastewater master plan report presented to council at its recent meeting.

The report accounted for anticipated growth and the age of the existing infrastructure. Many upgrade and replacement projects were identified within the various components of the town's system.

"Based on the findings of assessment at the wastewater treatment plant, we identified a number of upgrades required at the plant," said Jane Wilson, environmental engineer with the town's consultants J. L. Richards and Associates. "These are a combination of infrastructure renewal projects and projects to accommodate future growth."

Right now, the Midland wasterwater treatment plant is operating at about 60% of its rated capacity, she said.

"It's been upgraded significantly twice since it was built in the '60s," added Wilson. "There are a number of components in the plant that are near the end of their useful life. Because of combined sewers, there is potential for high flow of water to the plant during wet weather events."

There is a storm equalization tank on the site to mitigate for that flow, she said, however, on instances where the capacity of both the plant and the equalization chamber is exceeded, the flows will bypass into Midland Bay.

In addition, Wilson said, "There are four areas within the existing collection system that are constrained. There is an increase in bypasses during wet weather events. As growth occurs over time, this increase will have to be mitigated by either an increase in treatment capacity at the plant or by an increase in that equalization storage volume."

As well, she said, further to other long-term needs, there is an immediate need to address the deficiency within the existing aeration tanks.

The report, available online, gives details of the mitigation methods.

Wilson said with a number of upgrades and replacements, the total cost comes up to $24 million with 40% of that being attributed to growth and development and the remaining to infrastructure renewal.

But that is the project cost over the next 20 years or so, she said.

For more immediate needs, Wilson explained, "The first is about $3 million general lifecycle repairs at the wastewater treatment plant. This is due to deferred upgrades. The next capital project is a new equalization tank. The one after that is a headworks replacement and then the aeration system upgrade."

Councillors asked questions after her presentation had ended.

Coun. Jon Main kicked it off.

"You mentioned the one pump station on the Sunnyside pump station, would that be growth related?"

Wilson said it's a combination of existing and projected new development in the area.

Andy Campbell, executive director of environment and infrastructure, expanded on the matter.

"We get a lot of questions about when will Sunnyside get serviced," he said. "What you see through this study is how it will be done when and it really depends on that development of that vacant land up to Brunelle Side Road. And I don't see that happening in the next 20 years."

Coun. Bill Gordon wanted to know if Midland will continue to have capacity to help service its neighbours and if there are chances of a collaboration with either Tay Township or Penetanguishene.

Campbell said there is capacity at the nutrient plant in the short-term, but it's near the end of its life.

"Right now, we bring in sewage from Tay from the museum there," he added. "Some of the Martyr's Shrine has asked to come onto our system, and some west end development of Tay. They haven't decided they want to connect more into our system, but they haven't indicated if they want to do that. Penetanguishene has a relatively new plant. They have sufficient capacity. The discussions around sharing were more around the water side."

Mayor Stewart Strathearn said that the report was an eyeopener.

"It actually makes your eyes water when you see some of the amounts," he added, "but it's also factoring in growth, which is something we're looking forward to.

"We've heard that once we hit a certain capacity the commitment level for our facility, we need to start scoping out a new facility," asked Strathearn. "The current facility with the proposed upgrades of $24 million will keep us in those planning limit? At what point, do we start considering a new facility?"

Wilson said there will be upgrades required to increase the capacity of the plant to accommodate growth.

"Part of that is related to the wet-weather flows but part of that is ultimately related to your average day flows, which you have to think about when you're allocating permits to new developments," she added.

"In the 20-year horizon, the plant has adequate capacity or could be expanded in a relatively straightforward way. That plant was originally designed for a larger ultimate capacity than is there now."

Campbell said with the county's going through its comprehensive municipal review and new provincial rules on municipal growth deadlines and the planning horizon will be moved ahead by a decade to 2051.

"We did put additional money to take the study for the next 10 years," he said. "Hopefully, we won't use all the money council has approved. We just finished a study and we have to open it back up and do a bit more work to meet county and provincial requirements."

Strathearn asked if the $2 million budgeted would decrease if the town were to decline septage from neighbouring municipalities.

Campbell said that money will be used to increase capacity and competence of the treatment process.

"If we were to reduce our volumes because we are restricting waste from other municipalities," he added, "really what we would have to focus on in the short term is odour control. We wouldn't have to spend the whole amount but a couple hundred thousand. We raised our rates (for external rates) this year and part of that is raising the money over time so we would collect external funds to pay for that upgrade."

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com