Development in South Glengarry’s fastestgrowing community could grind to a halt if current water and wastewater capacity issues aren’t soon addressed.
“We have three different subdivisions (in Glen Walter) that council is aware of, that have gone through draft plan approval that we cannot commit capacity to,” said Joanne Haley, the township’s general manager of community services, during the March 5 regular council meeting.
“That means that it reduces or sterilizes growth in Glen Walter.”
Citing figures from the township’s annual water and wastewater report, Ewen MacDonald, the township’s general manager of infrastructure services, said the Glen Walter water treatment (sewage) plant’s rated capacity of 787 cubic metres per day was exceeded approximately 40 per cent of the time in 2017.
And while he explained that the facility can handle much higher volumes, he added that it’s not an ideal situation.
“The 787, which is the design capacity, is based on an average annual daily flow. Our plant is designed... for a peak flow of 2,100 cubic metres per day,” said Mr. MacDonald.
“We have proven that we can handle more than that, but it’s not an exercise that we want to continue to do.”
According to Mr. MacDonald, there are two primary reasons behind the high flows.
“We’ve been dealing with this issue for a number of years... and it has been directly triggered by winter rain events or freeze/thaw events,” he said, attributing the infiltration of groundwater into the system to older pipes and manholes in the earlier developed parts of Glen Walter.
“We suspect that there are also still many,
many property owners who have sump pumps connected into our system.”
Mr. MacDonald said he and the township’s director of water and wastewater operations Shawn Killoran are awaiting the release of the Glen Walter Environmental Assessment (EA) report this spring – as well as reviewing updated weather-related flow, and camera-inspection data – before formulating a strategy to deal with the issue.
“From that information, we need to come up with a plan, which might include some advocacy and education to the public, as far as the sump pump connections,” said Mr. MacDonald, who also pointed out that the municipality has the authority to take action against homeowners or residents who are discharging water into the system through sump pump outlets.
“We know that this is a high priority. Mr. Killoran and I have discussed that this is probably our highest priority in 2018, for that system.”
Another option for addressing the capacity issue – albeit a costly one – would be the construction of a second water treatment plant in Glen Walter, something that Mr. MacDonald referred to as a possible “recommendation for the long-term.”
Mayor Ian McLeod feels the high flow problem can be remedied by focusing on groundwater infiltration.
“The extraneous inflows are coming from direct rain water, from roof leaders, sump pumps and ditches. That’s really what’s damaging us,” said the mayor.
“That’s the area that we have to attack. If we can claw that back, then we’re good for expansion.”
While extraneous inflows are a major issue, the increased volume of water is not causing any environmental problems.
“We know that we have an issue with high flows in Glen Walter. Our effluent quality, however, is excellent,” said Mr. MacDonald.
“We’re not anywhere near the parameters where the Ministry (of the Environment) has any concerns. That being said, we cannot be complacent with this.”