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This article was published 1/12/2020 (244 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The City of Winnipeg may take a second look at how much sewage it can treat for rural municipalities, amidst fears local capacity could reach its limit in just a few years.
On Tuesday, council’s water and waste committee directed civic staff to report on ways to mitigate the demands of service-sharing agreements providing sewage treatment for the RMs of Rosser and West St. Paul, in exchange for a fee.
Both deals currently have no limit on the amount of sewage to be treated.
The committee also voted to direct staff to attempt to negotiate a change to a proposed sewer service-sharing agreement for the RM of St. Andrews. That aims to restrict the deal to serve a maximum of 1,800 homes over the next decade, if council approves.
"We can’t have everybody scrambling and competing to get the last little bit of space that’s left. We’ve got to work together," said Coun. Brian Mayes, water and waste committee chairman. "As the space dwindles here, we need to have a plan."
A city report warns Winnipeg’s current sewage treatment system can only process sewage sludge from about 90,000 more people into what’s known as "biosolids."
A $1.8-billion upgrade of Winnipeg’s north end sewage treatment plant is expected to increase biosolids capacity by 2028, as long as the massive project secures senior government funding and stays on schedule.
However, without changes to control current demand or with any delay in those upgrades, the capacity could be exhausted, Mayes warned.
"We’re really saying we may have to slow down residential or industrial development in the city because we are somewhere between five years and nine years from now going to hit our limit… unless we get going on the biosolids facility up at the north end (facility)," he said.
Mayes said he understands why some Winnipeggers may question the city’s plans to finalize a new sewage agreement for St. Andrews, while Winnipeg is facing local capacity limits. However, he said the city committed to provide that service several years ago, and infrastructure has already been put in place to support it.
All of the changes would require full council approval.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.