Whitecourt presented findings of 2016 Wastewater Treatment Plant Study
Stantec has completed Whitecourt’s 2016 Master Business Plan and Odour Mitigation Report, and a presentation was made on its findings to Town Council at the November 28 Regular Meeting.
Stantec was contracted in April 2016 to complete a technical review that included:
• A review of the plant’s original design in relation to how it is currently performing/ operating.
• A review of the generation of sludge and what can be done to minimize it.
• A review of how the facility handles gravel and other inert materials.
• Recommendation on changes to the plant that can increase capacity and address odour concerns.
Throughout the study period, a number of consultation initiatives launched to help not only track odour trends in the east valley area, but to also educate residents on the facility. An open house, facility tour and “Odour Tracking Diaries” were all part of the public consultation process, and information gained through these initiatives were considered by Stantec during the study.
During the presentation, representatives from Stantec outlined the activities and changes made at the facility over the last several months that have positively impacted operations. Items included:
•The discontinuation of septage from outside the community;
• The addition of chemicals and a water cap to mitigate odours from the sludge storage cells; and
• Development of a “green belt” surrounding the storage cells that will in the long term act as a buffer to neighbouring developments.
In addition, the Town is drafting a new utilities bylaw that will provide an enhanced framework to manage operations and will include enforcement measures to control what is being processed at the facility.
“I’m pleased with the work our utilities department has done throughout this year, specifically throughout the summer, to help mitigate odours and nuisances from the facility in the east valley area, “noted Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak. “Through tracking complaints from last year to this year, we noticed a significant decrease in negative comments regarding odours from the plant. Having the statistics and feedback from residents to reference confirmed that we are on the right track, and we will build on this year’s success in the future.”
Stantec has concluded that the current facility meets compliance requirements and current needs; however, capital enhancements and investments would enhance the plant’s performance and capacity issues into the future. It was noted that the root cause of nuisance odours from the facility was from excessive amounts of inert material (sand, gravel, nonbiodegradable materials) being pushed through the treatment process and stored in the sludge storage cells. Stantec recommended a number of short and long term projects, valued at $8.2 million, that could be undertaken in the next 2-10 years that would assist with removing excess inert solids, thereby enhancing operations and mitigating odours.
“Stantec’s presentation was extremely informative,” added Mayor Chichak. “The presentation, and subsequent report, will provide Council with the details we require to identify our next steps, and plan and budget for the future.”
Council will be reviewing the report, and discussing the recommendations at the January 2017 Planning Session.