Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sewage plant upgrade will take seven years

Original 2014 deadline unrealistic, city official says

  • Print

Major upgrades to Winnipeg's largest sewage treatment plant will not be complete for another seven years, according to city water and waste officials, who said the original 2014 deadline wasn't realistic.

Water and waste director Diane Sacher said Monday the city will not complete construction of a $379-million nutrient-removal facility at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre until 2019. The facility treats 75 per cent of Winnipeg's waste water and is one of the nation's worst phosphorus polluters, a chemical that contributes to the harmful algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg.

The province ordered the city to build the new nutrient-removal facility at the North End plant after a massive failure caused the plant to spew raw sewage into the Red River for 57 hours in 2002.

Sacher said the city submitted its plans for upgrades to the province in June, and they have since been reviewed and approved by the Clean Environment Commission. She said it will take time to design and commission the new facility, and the 2014 deadline is unrealistic.

The new emission limits, which are expected to drastically reduce the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients released into local waterways, will take effect when the work is done in April 2019, she said.

Water discharged from the North End plant into local waterways accounts for about five per cent of the phosphorus that flows into Lake Winnipeg.

Preliminary 2011 emissions data from the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) released late last week show the North End plant dumped 205 tonnes of phosphorus into Winnipeg waterways last year, down from the 247 tonnes it released in 2010. Data show the Winnipeg plant remained the fourth-largest phosphorus polluter of any industrial facility in the country, behind sewage-treatment plants in Vancouver and Montreal.

Last year, the city put off construction of the nutrient-removal facility due to a dispute with the province over how best to remove nitrogen.

Sacher said the city plans to use a biological process to remove phosphorus from waste water, which in turn removes nitrogen.

Dan McInnis, Manitoba's assistant deputy minister of climate change and environmental protection, said the province has asked the city to provide a more detailed master plan by next October and find ways to reduce the amount of phosphorus before the nutrient-removal facility is finished. Once the plant is complete, the facility will only allowed to release one milligram of phosphorus per litre, which McInnis said will cut the amount of phosphorus discharged into local rivers by more than half.

Other stuff that happened at council's public works committee on Monday:

Elm tree strategy: The committee approved a plan that recommends Winnipeg work with the province to combat Dutch elm disease. The strategy includes asking the province to reinstate buffer zones in the RMs of Richot and Springfield and split the cost of tree removal, Elm bark beetle control and tree-planting. This year, the province contributed $1 million to fighting the disease and the city's spent $2.7 million.

The city has proposed spending an additional $1.9 million and has asked the province to match the contribution.

The plan has to be approved by executive policy committee and city council.

Water and sewer rates: The committee voted in favour of a three-year increase to water and sewer rates. The average Winnipeg household will spend $939.32 on water and sewer bills in 2013, an increase of $38.32 from this year, based on a 4.3 per cent rate hike proposed by the water and waste department. The increase marks the 10th straight year water and sewer rates are set to rise to help pay for upgrades to Winnipeg's sewage-treatment plants and sewer replacements.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2012 B2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A black swallowtail butterfly land on Lantana flowers Sunday morning at the Assiniboine Park English Gardens- standup photo – August 14, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Did you watch the Bruce Jenner interview?

View Results

Ads by Google