TransAqua is considering buying a property outside Moncton to compost sewage following complaints about a foul smell that wafts over the city's north end.
TransAqua is the wastewater utility for Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview. "Biosolids" removed from wastewater are trucked to a composting facility south of Berry Mills Road.
The province's environment department told TransAqua this year to come up with a plan to address the smell following complaints from the nearby residential area.
One option is "acquiring an approved biosolids composting facility" outside the city, according to a Sept. 21 ministerial briefing note released to CBC News through a right-to-information request.
The memo names a specific business near South Branch, about 50 kilometres north of the city.
Kevin Rice, TransAqua's general manager, declined to get into specifics.
"Right now we're in a legal process so I can't really comment until the process is complete," Rice said in an interview. "But, you know, that is an opportunity that we are exploring, absolutely."
Rice said if they go with that option, TransAqua would continue to use its existing composting facility in Moncton.
"We're exploring all options and all opportunities, and that includes a facility that is off-site that could handle anything in excess of our site capacity here."
Rice said upgrades at TransAqua's Riverview treatment plant have led to 46 per cent increase in biosolid production.
Excess material is now being trucked to Amherst, N.S., but Rice said that costs about $20 more per tonne than handling it in-house.
"That's a huge expense," Rice said.
Rice said any potential cost of buying another site would be covered by ratepayers.
The existing facility is designed to handle 15,000 tonnes of biosolids per year, which could be expanded to 20,000. The utility's board has approved a budget that includes a capacity expansion next year.
TransAqua has already said it would implement other short-term measures, including a misting system and buying more covers for the piles of composting material.
A community meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. at Maplehurst Middle School.
Bryan Butler, Moncton's deputy mayor, said TransAqua is expected to talk about what it's doing in response to the smell.
Rice said they'll try to answer questions from residents about the steps they're taking.