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Sewage lagoon raising a stink with costs

Posted on September 3, 2014 by Taber Times

By Trevor Busch
Taber Times
tbusch@tabertimes.com

Repair and rehabilitation costs associated with the town’s sewage lagoon system continue to mount, with town council approving two emergency expenditures on the system last month.

On Aug. 18, town council voted unanimously to accept the report of CAO Greg Birch regarding an emergency expenditure that was made to repair air blower lines at the sewage lagoons pursuant to Clause 6 of the Procurement and Purchasing Policy No. CS-FIN-1.
According to administration, over the past few months, the town has received odour complaints regarding its sewage lagoons.

The contracted operator, EPCOR, working with town staff and Alberta Environment, determined there were two sources of the odour, which included a lack of air flow to the primary lagoon aeration cells (Cells 1 and 2) and a buildup of sludge in Cell 4.
CAO Birch authorized am emergency expenditure of up to $30,000 to repair air holes in the main lines (headers) feeding the helixers in the two lagoon cells.

At least five odour complaints were received in late June from residents east of the lagoon system. Airflow to both cells has since been increased, while the total cost of the emergency expenditure is expected to be approximately $20,000.
There have been no subsequent algae blooms on lagoon cells, and no added odour complaints have been registered since actions were taken.

Following a special in camera meeting of town council on Aug. 5, council voted to approve the emergency removal of sludge from Cell 4 of the sewage lagoons to a maximum of $400,000, with EPCOR to contribute a minimum of 25 per cent of that cost and the balance to come from infrastructure capital reserves.

The contract for sludge removal was sole-sourced to Lanburne Environmental Ltd.Town administration was also directed to investigate the actual sludge contribution and associated benefit to EPCOR of diverting sludge from the BNR plant to the lagoons since 2011 — and if the amount is greater than 25 per cent of the sludge removal costs — then EPCOR will be asked to pay that greater amount, while also recognizing that sludge is building up in the other lagoon cells.

Council also requested EPCOR review its obligations for sludge removal at the BNR plant under the 2008 operations, maintenance and capital works agreements between EPCOR and the town, and provide an action plan to the town by Oct. 14, 2014 outlining how EPCOR intends to address any such obligations.

In a report to council at the Aug. 5 meeting, EPCOR cited the failure of the aeration system at the lagoons and the discharging of sludge as root causes of the odour problem.

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