Province stays out of city phosphorus fight — for now
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/10/2019 (1081 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The province has turned down Coun. Kevin Klein’s request for it to consider alternate interim methods to reduce phosphorus emissions at Winnipeg’s north end sewage treatment plant.
Klein wrote Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires this week, stating city hall’s request for two more years to study interim methods is inadequate and asking the province to assess the viability of a proposal from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and Lake Winnipeg Foundation.
A spokeswoman for Squires said unless city hall formally submits the IISD/LWF option or any other, in a revised proposal on plant options, none will be considered.
“The current (city plan) before the province does not have an interim solution proposed,” Olivia Billson said. “In order for the province to formally review any additional proposals, the city would need to resubmit an amended (plan).”
However, both Klein and Lake Winnipeg Foundation said they don’t believe the province’s current response is its final word.
“It’s the city’s responsibility to design a solution that will work, and it’s the province’s responsibility to ensure Lake Winnipeg is protected,” said Alexis Kanu, foundation executive director, adding the public wants to see changes made.
Kanu said the province imposed conditions dealing with phosphorus emissions to the city’s west end plant in 2007, and said the same can happen again for the north end facility.
An abundance of phosphorus in the Red River has been identified as a culprit for algae blooms on Lake Winnipeg. The north end plant is considered to be the largest, single-point contributor (about five per cent of all emissions).
The city is facing a Dec. 31 deadline to reduce emissions of phosphorus from its north end facility to one milligram per litre from the current level of 3.54 mg/L.
But, with only one of three phases of plant upgrades approved and no indication of when construction would start on the critical remaining two, city hall in July submitted a notice of alteration, requesting two more years to determine how it can reduce phosphorus emissions.
The city’s July letter was in response to a directive given by the province in January, requiring a detailed plan on how to “expedite” the construction schedule and interim options to “expedite phosphorus removal,” before plant upgrades are completed.
The IISD and Lake Winnipeg Foundation said the city could comply with phosphorus requirements using an interim method, an approach used successfully by several municipalities in Eastern Canada and the United States. In its July letter, the city told the province the IISD/LWF proposal, and several others that had been tested, were ineffective in reducing phosphorus levels below the one mg/L level.
Klein and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation said the city’s response is puzzling because a consultant hired by the city that tested the options had concluded the IISD/LWF proposal had merit.
Updated on Thursday, October 10, 2019 6:03 PM CDT: Adds photo