Sewage lagoon was a major topic at recent town council meeting
Twelve things to know about Stratford sewage lagoon.
The ongoing smell from the Stratford sewage lagoon was the source of much attention at last week's monthly meeting of town council. The focus was on the $1.8 million air circulation system called Blue Frog now in the lagoon. Here are 12 points of discussion from the meeting:
1 Odours now
"Odours from the plant have stopped since June 20," said Coun. Gary Clow, chairman of Stratford's infrastructure committee. "The system is slowly returning to normal operation," he said. Best say the odours have been suppressed, not eliminated, suggested Coun. Randy Cooper.
2 What can you expect?
"It's probably as good as you can get, if you have an open lagoon system," said Cooper of the situation now. "As I told Councillor (Edward Rice, chair of Charlottetown's sewer and water committee) 'Everything is great in Stratford as long as the wind isn't blowing out of the north, because (then) we can smell yours,' " said Cooper.
3 Shellfishing ban
The Charlottetown harbour shell fishery was closed down in June after water testing from the Stratford lagoon outflow failed to meet guidelines. The ban was lifted July 2, the meeting was told, and water discharge is back to usual readings, but still needs improvement.
4 Raw sewage
"Did we, at any time, discharge raw sewage, without a permit, into the Hillsbor-facts ough River?" asked Cooper. No, never, said Clow. "Everything going out is treated waste water," said Clow. "Not saying that the readings and quality was what we wanted but at no time was there raw sewage."
5 What next?
"Representatives of the Blue Frog system and from the (lagoon) designers are scheduled to be here July 13 to 17," said Clow. "During that time they are expect to make some changes to the system and have a solution and explanation as to why the system did not function well during the spring turnover event."
6 Stratford image hurting
"We have been trashed in social media," said Cooper of the lagoon odour. "We had an issue and I think we are doing a good job dealing with it," he said.
Staff are doing a tremendous job consulting and adjusting the system, working long hours and weekends to improve the lagoon smell, the meeting was told. "What ever they are doing now seems to be working," said Clow. "It is our No. 1 concern here in Stratford," said Cooper.
8 Due diligence
Before buying Blue Frog, Stratford contacted other towns in Canada that had it and it worked for them without these problems, said Coun. Steve Ogden. Consultants were hired to check out claims and other options for Stratford, he said. The provincial government also endorsed Stratford's move to the Blue Frogs, said Mayor David Dunphy. "Hand in hand," he said.
"I still have faith in the system," said Cooper. "I also think these frogs will work," said Clow. "I have nothing but the utmost confidence," the issues will be rectified, said Dunphy.
10 Solution costly
A permanent solution right now, without funding help, would put resident fees up by $3,000, predicts Cooper. "We are looking for an infrastructure program to come along for the big fix, whatever that number is going to be and it's going to be huge," said Clow. The funding search is ongoing.
11 Treatment plans
"I do have a meeting next Tuesday (July 14) with a couple of the (deputy ministers) and other provincial staff and the City of Charlottetown, so that's moving forward," said Robert Hughes, chief administrative officer regarding funding and long range options.
12 Blue Frog cost
"Have the Blue Frogs been completely paid for?" asked Ogden. "They are completely paid for," said Cooper, chair of the finance and technology committee. "So we don't have any power to hold back payments, anything like that?" said Ogden. No, he was told. There are contract clauses for non-performance that go through a warranty process for reimbursement.
Stratford Mayor David Dunphy shows off one of the town’s Blue Frog units at the sewage lagoon in this April 2014 photo.
Former Coun. Emile Gallant, then chair of Stratford’s infrastructure committee, explains the Blue Frog waste treatment system in this file photo.