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This article was published 25/11/2011 (2918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Provincial officials worry any plans to extend Winnipeg's water and sewer services to other municipalities could increase the output of harmful phosphorus and ammonia from the city's largest sewage-treatment plant.
On Friday, the City of Winnipeg announced it will consider enacting a new policy to guide how it extends water and sewer services. About two-thirds of Manitoba's population lives in the capital region, and Winnipeg has already been in talks about extending its water-sewer service into West St. Paul, East St. Paul, MacDonald and Rosser.
The proposed policy said a neighbouring municipality would pay for Winnipeg to extend water and sewer pipes to it. If approved by council's executive policy committee next week, Winnipeg's CAO could explore water-sewer negotiations with any interested municipality.
Dwight Williamson, assistant deputy minister for Manitoba Water Stewardship, said Winnipeg's North End sewage-treatment plant does not meet current environmental standards for phosphorus and is barely meeting those for ammonia. If the city starts treating additional waste water from surrounding municipalities, Williamson said it could put additional pressure on an outdated facility that needs to be upgraded.
In 2014, the North End Water Pollution Control Centre will be allowed to release one milligram of phosphorus per litre of waste water and 2,663 kilograms of ammonia for any 24-hour period, according to provincial limits. The latest monitoring data from September show on average, the North End plant released four times that limit for phosphorus. It also exceeded the future ammonia limit and released an average of 3,642 kilograms of ammonia each day.
Williamson said the city cannot meet those limits now and will have even greater difficulty if it adds additional waste-water loads.
Williamson said the plant is the largest polluter of ammonia and phosphorus to Manitoba waterways and needs to be upgraded to meet current and future environmental standards.
"That puts more pressure on it," Williamson said about any potential expansion of waste-water treatment. "From our perspective this underscores the need for the City of Winnipeg to upgrade and modernize its facility."
The province ordered the City of Winnipeg to build the new nutrient-removal facility after a massive failure caused the North End plant to spew raw sewage into the Red River for 57 hours in 2002. The construction of a $365-million nutrient-removal facility at the waste-water plant was put off earlier this year after the city and province could not agree about how best to remove nitrogen. The city did not include the project in its plans for next year when it released the 2012 capital budget.
City of Winnipeg chief operating officer Deepak Joshi was surprised by the province's concerns and said it's much smarter and environmentally sustainable to treat additional waste water in Winnipeg's sewage-treatment plants than the septic tanks municipalities currently use. Joshi said septic tanks often fail, and Winnipeg's facilities have a surplus capacity to treat the additional waste water.
Earlier this year, the city agreed to cover half the $17-million cost of extending water and sewer pipes into the RM of Rosser to allow real estate companies to market CentrePort industrial land.
"We were already working closely with the province to take a look at how we would provide services to Rosser for CentrePort," Joshi said. "So I'm surprised those concerns have not been shared with their counterparts."
The City of Winnipeg has been in talks with West St. Paul about a deal to extend water and sewer services, which the municipality is eager to purchase to avoid building new treatment plants of its own. The move will also help officials move ahead with new developments, including the sale of the 18-hectare North Perimeter Park.
An administrative report released Friday suggests Winnipeg move ahead with a plan to sell the plot of city-owned riverfront land in West St. Paul, though the RM would issue no building permits until it reaches a service-sharing agreement with Winnipeg.