City gets funding for wastewater plant
PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES From left: Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the minister of infrastructure and communities, Ann Hoggarth, MPP for Barrie, and Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke announced Friday approximately $2.2 million in funding through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund. The money will go toward Orillia’s $14.5-million wastewater-treatment centre project.
An Orillia infrastructure project is at the top of the list of 74 projects announced for funding by the federal and provincial governments Friday.
Almost $1.5 million will be provided to the city from the feds for the upgrades of the city’s wastewater-treatment centre, which includes the construction of a tertiary filter and blower buildings, as well as tertiary treatment to meet Lake Simcoe effluent phosphorus limits.
The province is contributing nearly $750,000, as part of an agreement that would typically see the federal government contribute 50% of the funding for a project, and the province and the municipality make up the rest.
But the Orillia project is larger than many of the others announced Friday. Its budget, of about $14.5 million, is approximately the same amount the federal government is spending in total on the 74 projects.
“Because of the scope of our project, we were eligible for a maximum; I believe that we got the maximum,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “This was a formula-based project funding allocation. If it had been project based, it’s possible that the number could have been different.”
The project has been in the works for years, and during that time, Clarke said he met regularly with representatives in both Ottawa and Queen’s Park to ensure the project would align with the criteria for proposed infrastructure funding. Contributions made to city’s wastewater reserve have helped fund the bulk of the project to date.
Now, less funding from the tax base will be required. As much as that will be a relief to the city and its ratepayers, the big winner is Lake Simcoe.
“This announcement is basically looking at refining, even further, the quality of that water,” explained Greg Preston, the city’s manger of waste management. “There is still some phosphorus in there. Our staff are doing an amazing job at keeping that phosphorus down to a low level, but this will be extra insurance.”
The entry of phosphorus in a water system allows for a number of problems to develop, including algae build-up, which can kill fish. New compliance limits for phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe came into effect in June 2015; current regulations allow for .1 mg/litre.
The refurbishment of the existing equipment in the water-treatment centre will allow for cleaner water to go into the lake for years to come.
“This can get it down well below that,” Preston said. “Even if more stringent guidelines came in, I’m sure we’d be well within that.”
Construction on the centre began in April, after a $12.8-million tender was awarded last fall. It is expected to be finished by March 2018.
Not only will the project help with the health of Lake Simcoe, but it also will ensure the city’s wastewater infrastructure isn’t overly taxed by future planned growth.
“Our wastewater-treatment centre is over half-capacity. As Orillia grows, our ability to effectively treat wastewater and reduce the phosphorus we’ve done up to now would be inhibited unless we had something like this in place,” Preston said. “Having this in place will help with Orillia’s growth because it will keep that phosphorus down even when higher flows are coming into the wastewater-treatment centre.”
Of the 74 projects funded, the majority are in Bruce, Grey and Simcoe counties. Among the highlights are $2.1 million for a new groundwater reservoir and pump station, more than $700,000 for a new water booster pumping station in Midland and approximately $400,000 for the replacement of a sewer main on Brick Pond Road in Severn Township.