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Council Decides To Go Ahead With Desludging of Wastewater Treatment Plant

With no new provincial or federal funding being promised for a new Wastewater Treatment Plant, city council faced some tough decisions on Monday.

The first, whether or not to use $3 million to desludge the lagoon. The money for this project was not originally budgeted, so two options were presented:

  • Take the money from the Capital Asset Replacement Reserve transfer, which would be paid back in a ten year period
  • Borrow the money and pay it back over a 20 year period resulting in nearly a million dollars in interest

The desludging would have had to be done regardless of funding.

“This project, I want to make sure people understand, is a requirement to continue to operate the lagoon. If we don’t, the lagoon in essence is going to fail because there won’t be capacity to do any of the work it needs to do,” says Mayor Gerald Aalbers.

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Traditionally this is done every 10-15 years, however the last time it was done in the Border City was over 20 years ago. Council voted in favour of using the reserve money.

Mayor Aalbers says, “that’s what that money is there for. Ideally, we would’ve liked to have found it in the operating budget but it’s just not there at this time.”

Why this wasn’t accounted for in the budget originally, Mayor Aalbers says, “I think administration had a lot of tough choices to make and previous council, and it’s one of those items that’s challenging. Being in that role today, certainly we just finished some strategic planning and I think the direction we’re going to give administration is we need to lay out all of the cards for this council to make sure we know what we need to be facing.”

Mayor Aalbers says the desludging shows good faith by the city.

“Anytime that you demonstrate you’re trying to resolve an issue, even though we don’t have the resources to do an $80 million fix, by doing $3 million we can present we are dealing with the CBOD’s and the TSS issue but we can’t deal with the ammonia and phosphorus issue alone without additional work.”

He adds, “it gives us a bargaining chip, if you can call it that, in a demonstration of good faith to the provincial government that we are trying. The city is not putting a blind to this and saying oh we’ll just leave it to the side. There’s legislation and we’re going to do the best we can with the resources we have.”

The next decision was whether or not to formally request for an extension to have a new Wastewater Treatment Plant in place. If no request were to be made, the city could face provincial and federal prosecution.

Council voted unanimously in favour to have the Mayor write a letter to the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Government relations to request a permit extension until November 1, 2028.

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During the council meeting, the mayor and councillors all agreed that they don’t want this to be pushed on to the next council.

The next step will be awarding the contract for the desludging. The project has to be completed in the summer, so it will have to be discussed soon. Mayor Aalbers says it will be at least a month before it begins.

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