Smelly sit­u­a­tion

Sewage la­goon was a ma­jor topic at re­cent town coun­cil meet­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY NIGEL ARMSTRONG

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 praise

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.

9 Con­fi­dence

"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.

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