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Water partnership has hefty price tag

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In Bradford West Gwillimbury
Jun 21st, 2010
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Braford Times – May 27 2010 — The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury and the Town of Innisfil are partners in water. BWG up-fronted both the cost of the water pipeline from Innisfil’s Lakeshore water treatment plant to the Fennell Reservoir, and the cost of the Phase 2 expansion at the plant, in exchange for a supply of clean, potable water from Lake Simcoe. The Town of Innisfil is repaying its share of those costs, over time and as development proceeds.
The municipalities are also partnering on the Phase 3 expansion at the Lakeshore plant – an expansion that will quadruple the size of the plant, from about 28,000 cu. metres per day to 105 cu. m. per day, to provide water for the growth contained in Innisfil’s Official Plan Amendment #1, and Bradford West Gwillimbury’s OPA #15 (Hwy. 400 employment lands) and #16 (Bond Head).
“Phase 3 is going to be a major cost,” Councillor Peter Dykie Jr. noted in Council. He asked if the Town has enough in reserves and from Development charges to front-end its share.
Director of Engineering, Debbie Korolnek replied that the costs haven’t been finalized, but acknowledged that they are “significant.” BWG will need to work out a new agreement with Innisfil, and speak with the developers’ group to ensure that the financing is available.
The alternatives considered range in cost from $66 to $80 million; the price tag for the preferred option is about $70 million, according to estimates. “Our share will be proportional to our use,” said Korolnek โ€“ about 20% of the new capacity, or $14 million. Most of the funding will be recoverable from Development Charges, levied on new development.
AECOM engineering is proposing an expansion at the current site, using conventional water treatment and a process known as “dissolved air flotation,” with granular media filtration, to remove impurities from the raw water. Treatment will include ultraviolet radiation and hydrogen peroxide to kill microbes and provide better oxidation, for taste and odour control; and chlorination.
And rather than pump the waste water to the sewage treatment plant, it will be thickened and treated on site, to produce a “sludge cake” that can be landfilled.
Questions have been raised as to why the consultants are proposing conventional water treatment, and not higher-profile membrane technology. “Membranes are great, and they have their place, but they’re normally used where the land is at a premium,” Korolnek said, because the technology is so expensive. The Lakeshore water treatment plant is located on 25 Sideroad, within Innisfil Beach Park โ€“ with enough land available for the conventional treatment system.
The operating costs of the membrane technology are “quite a bit higher” over the lifespan of the plant, she added – $80 million initially, and $2.1 to $2.3 million per year to operate – but “this treatment process is just as good.” As she told Council, the chosen process “is the best bang for the buck.”
Councillor James Leduc asked about the possibility of reviving the “big pipe” from Collingwood, and bringing water from Georgian Bay.
Korolnek replied that C.C. Tatham engineers conducted a master servicing study that looked at the Georgian Bay pipeline, and concluded, “It’s a longer distance, the capital costs will be greater, the operating costs will be greater because of the agreement between Collingwood and New Tecumseth…. It’s a messier political situation.”
AECOM held a third Public Information Centre on May 18, as part of the Environmental Assessment for the plant expansion. The engineers looked at 8 options and their variations, before identifying the preferred alternative as providing the “best benefit-to-cost ratio.”
Simon Breese, AECOM Global Technical Practice Leader, Water Treatment, agreed that with the high costs, uncertainties surrounding approved growth for Innisfil, and the slowing economy, phasing of construction “makes sense. Two chunks would be a logical phasing.”
The information was not available at the PIC because, he said, “the phasing is not really something we were asked to look at.”
Breese suggested that Ontario’s fixation with membrane technology grew out of the Walkerton disaster, and the fact that membrane technology is produced locally. Other countries and other provinces have stayed with traditional water treatment solutions. In fact, he said, flotation techniques are the “best bet” for removal of algae โ€“ and membrane technology “does nothing for taste and odor.”
Comments received by June 4 will be considered and addressed, before AECOM drafts the Environmental Study Report this summer. The EA should be completed by September 2010 .

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