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City needs more time to hit wastewater targets 0

By Sara Ross, Orillia Packet & Times

ORILLIA - 

The City of Orillia is asking the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) for more time to complete a $15-million wastewater treatment centre upgrade.

To meet legislated phosphorus levels, the city must add tertiary treatment to its wastewater treatment centre by June 2015. Phosphorus is the major water-quality concern in Lake Simcoe and its watershed.

“We’re not really that far off meeting the target,” Mayor Angelo Orsi said Friday. “We’re going to try to ask the ministry for more time to meet the deadline if possible.”

The city’s current average phosphorus concentration is .19 milligrams per litre. It must be less than .1 milligrams per litre by the current deadline.

“$15 million to get down 300 kilograms is kind of an expensive weight loss ...” Orsi said.

Currently, Orillia’s wastewater goes through primary and secondary treatment.

Primary treatment is the settling of solids. The secondary treatment involves bacteria eating the waste.

The water — more than five million litres each year — then heads into Ben’s Ditch to Lake Simcoe.

Adding tertiary treatment requires the construction of a building and the installation of sand filters.

The tertiary treatment centre will be constructed at the wastewater treatment centre on Kitchener Street.

“... We support, obviously, the health of Lake Simcoe,” Coun. Patrick Kehoe said. “It’s an incredibly expensive proposition and, of course, one we’re given little to no choice on.”

Barrie and other communities around the lake are facing the same challenge, Kehoe added.

Orillia is also asking the MoE for upper-level government funding to help pay for the reduction.

“... We’re all in this together,” Kehoe said. “We would hope the province or the federal government would see fit to either participate and/or perhaps give us a time we can transition this treatment of requirement.”

At Monday’s council committee meeting, city politicians approved sending a letter to the MoE requesting funding help or more time to install the additional water-treatment phase.

“We’re hoping there is some significant funding from the government either directly related to Lake Simcoe or some type of infrastructure funding that would be for that type of project,” said Andrew Schell, Orillia’s manager of environmental services.

Having more time to install the tertiary treatment centre — a year or two — would also help the city, he said.

“... So we can implement the project over a little bit longer timeframe so the availability to find the funds is less constraining.”

sara.ross@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @Sara_VRoss

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