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This article was published 9/11/2020 (319 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Future developments in Winnipeg could be limited by sewage treatment capacity within just a few years.
A planned $1.8-billion upgrade of the north end sewage treatment plant includes work to increase its capacity to process all of the city’s sewage sludge into what’s known as biosolids, a new civic report details.
"The existing biosolids facility has a finite capacity and could halt or restrict development (residential, commercial and industrial) within the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg metro region in the next five to nine years," writes Geoffrey Patton, Winnipeg water and waste manager of engineering services.
The plant can handle the demands of about 90,000 additional people until it is upgraded, Patton states. Increased capacity is currently expected to arrive in 2028, as long as the north end upgrade secures senior government funding and stays on schedule.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of council’s water and waste committee, said it has now become even more critical to keep that project’s timeline on track. Mayes noted large development proposals could also force council to make some difficult decisions, if they would use up the existing capacity sooner.
"If we’re going to have to start balancing (demands on the treatment), as the report says… Then if we’ve got a big plant that wants to come in, maybe we can’t say yes because that would soak up too much of the sewer capacity," Mayes (St. Vital) said Monday.
One large industrial development alone can require the sewage capacity equivalent of about 15,000 people, Mayes said.
Exceeding the treatment capacity for an extended period would also threaten to let sewage sludge accumulate and spill into the local river system, the report notes.
The city’s public service recommends council vote on any sewage service-sharing agreements with rural municipalities in the future (which was previously handled by the city’s chief administrative officer), as well as any large industrial developments that would use up more than five per cent of the remaining biosolids capacity.
On Monday, the water and waste committee voted to postpone action on the file for one month to seek more information.
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.