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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council endorses Environmental Assessment for Colchester South Sewage Works expansion plan

- $43M facility proposed to accommodate proposed developments -

by Sylene Argent

To determine the preferred solution and conceptual design to accommodate increasing wastewater servicing demands in the community of Colchester South, a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment and Environmental Study Report were completed for the Colchester South Sewage Works.

The information was presented during a special Council meeting held the evening on Monday, July 17.

During the regular Council meeting later that evening, Council endorsed the recommended plan for the Colchester South Sewage Works Expansion Stantec Consulting Ltd created. Further, Council approved and directed Administration to proceed with the 30-day public review process and subsequent filing of the Notice of Completion with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

Stantec Consulting Ltd. was appointed for the project.

The project was completed to evaluate the impact of potential future development in the area for the next 20 and 40-year horizon to sewers, pumping stations, and the lagoon system, Essex’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Kevin Girard, said.

Having the Environmental Assessment completed was approved in July of 2022, by the previous Term-of-Council, through an agreement with Lankor Horizons Development Inc. and Colchester Bay Inc, which is proposed west of the Colchester Urban Centre.

The Report on the matter notes expectations of proposed development within Colchester South settlement area have increased over the past few years, including a proposed development by Lankor Horizons Development Inc. and Colchester Bay Inc. This development is within the secondary settlement area, however, was not included within the existing sanitary service area boundary, which triggered the need for a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA). The reports were paid for by the developer.

The development is proposed to offer mixed-style residential units, parkland, and a hotel with commercial retail space. It would increase the wastewater servicing demands beyond the capacity of the existing Colchester South wastewater treatment facility (WWTF).

“From a high-level, there are some impacts to the Town system. There are some future improvements necessary to take on this development and future developments,” Girard commented. “What is important to note is that this EA and the Environmental Study Report is an engineering planning document that is used to guide us in the future.”

He noted Council was not making any decision on improvements that evening, just the acceptance of the document.

Chrissy Jung, Environmental Engineer for Stantec, noted the Colchester sanitary sewer system was designed and constructed in the 1980s, and includes the boundaries of Ogden Street/County Road 50, County Road 13/Island View Lane, Lake Erie, and County Road 41.

The Colchester South Wastewater Treatment Facility is located around 500m south of County Road 50. It has three cell aerated facultative sewage lagoons, and a rated capacity of 1,816 m3/day and a peak flow capacity of 8,122m3/day. Based on data available from 2015-2021, it has a good historical operating performance, Jung explained.

As part of the EA process, Jung said seven alternative design solutions were identified and evaluated.

The solution to upgrade the Colchester South Sewage Works was carried forward for detailed evaluation and was recommended as the most preferred alternative as it would be able to accommodate additional development and wastewater flows from the Colchester Bay development and other developments or natural growth that may occur, Jung said.

From there, alternative design concepts were identified for sewage servicing, biosolids management, and wastewater treatment technologies.

Councillor Kim Verbeek had questions regarding the alternative design concepts for the biohazards management portion, which outlined trucking liquid sludge to the Essex PCP as it was identified as the preferred option, due to lower footprint requirements at the Colchester South WWTP and lower capital cost. Construction of an onsite dewatering facility should be reconsidered when major upgrades are being proposed at either wastewater treatment facility.

Director Girard explained multiple factors went into coming to that solution. There is a dewatering facility in Essex, so he said there is a synergy for a low-cost option to transport the sludge to Essex to take care of it.

That would be around four truck loads per month.

“It is not something I see as a major detriment,” he said, adding this will be reassessed during the Detailed Design phase from an operational standpoint.

Jung added that the four truck per week estimate is based on the twenty-year design, which is the firm capacity of this expansion. That would be the max in two decades, if all the proposed developments proceed.

In answering Councillor Rodney Hammond’s question regarding capacity and the number of dwellings the expansion would support, Jung explained the capacity of the facility is equivalent to around 4000 individuals. The proposed facility would allow for the accommodation for around 8000 people.

Councillor Jason Matyi confirmed that the proposed design would bring the capacity up to the maximum number of the six proposed developments, plus Colchester Bay.

Jung said beyond that, Council would have to look at either process or capacity upgrades.

She added the pumping station upgrades at the facility, upgrades at all the remaining pumping stations, and the wastewater treatment facility – including the engineering and contingency allowances – would total around $43m.

Once the triggers for improvements indicated in the Report to Council are realized, Administration will report to Council on recommendations for any sanitary sewage system upgrades as they are required, including recommended funding options.

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