At the regular May 8 meeting of the Sylvan Lake Town Council, Director of Public Works David Brand provided an update to Council regarding the management of the Town’s wastewater lagoons.
Brand noted that the lagoons are anticipated to reach full capacity in six weeks, and the city’s wastewater doesn’t meet necessary federal standards for release. Brand said Public Works’ efforts to achieve federal standards for 2017 discharge include increasing aeration in the lagoons; expanding the Cell 9 berm to increase its capacity and work done to desludge lagoons.
Brand provided rationales for “stop-gap solutions” for the next 5-10 years, saying that immediate solutions would protect human health and the environment and would help the Town stay in compliance with regulations.
These solutions include: pumping storm water; pumping effluent into a downstream ditch; carbon dioxide injection/treatment; increased aeration achieved with blowers and increased solar aeration and lakewater diversion.
In his presentation to Council, Brand discussed alternative mid-term options for upgrading the Town’s treatment system that include an ammonia treatment system; alternative methods of waste disposal, such as irrigation; an industry source hired to take effluent – which would require upgrades for the Town’s loading facility – and an aquifer recharge, which would entail treatment of effluent and its deposition into a groundwater aquifer. That process would require treatment upgrades and disposal infrastructure.
The ultimate long-term solution to the issue of wastewater lagoon capacity is a pipeline through which wastewater would be transferred to regional water treatment facility in Red Deer. This long-term strategy has approval from the Alberta Environment and Parks AEP and City of Red Deer and has the potential for federal funding. However, a design is not complete, and would take 2-3 years to implement.
Brand said the next steps in the matter include notifying AEP about the work being done and the Town’s plans to meet federal standards, to obtain operating approval renewal and achieve federal standards for 2017 discharge. Following that, interim upgrades for capacity building and continued compliance will be necessary, he added.
Brand said that an expert is investigating ways to boost the biological processes that break down effluent in the lagoons, and that the CAO will be speaking with Deputy Minister Andre Corbould, to talk about a committment for long-term funding, for a solution.
“There’s no decision there, but based on that discussion, Council may need to consider funding for mid-term upgrades,” said Brand. “Depending on the outcome of that discussion, we may need to come back and have a very serious discussion about what we can do to alternatively dispose of effluent or upgrade our treatment process so we don’t have to do this every single year.”