City needs cash for treatment plant

By Geoff Lee

January 28, 2016 10:08 AM

Coun. Linnea Goodhand explained the funding dilemma the city faces to fund an estimated $94 mechanical wasterwater faclity required by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency.

Current water rates could rise if the city can’t find a way to pay for an estimated $94 million upgrade to its existing lagoon wastewater treatment facility.
“I don’t want to say that’s a given, but we have to be creative,” said Coun. Linnea Goodhand following Monday’s council meeting.
“We have to look at everything.”
The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency requires the city to meet enhanced environmental standards for wastewater effluent discharged into the North Saskatchewan River effective July, 2018.
The city, however, finds itself approximately $16 million short with possible water rate hikes on the table as a potential source of revenue.
The project cost estimate comes from ISL Engineering & Land Services hired by the city in November 2014 to submit a preliminary design report for a mechanical wastewater treatment facility.
The city is willing to borrow $76 million of its $134 million borrowing limit but no more.
“We certainly don’t want to tie our city’s hands by being at our maximum borrowing,” said Goodhand.
The city has allocated the remaining $58 million of borrowing to other projects.
Alberta has kicked in nearly $2 million from the Building Canada Fund bringing the total available financing for the project to $78 million.
The Saskatchewan government that imposed the upgrade on the city has yet to provide any project funding.
“So it’s bit of Catch 22 for sure,” said Goodhand.
“There has to be some acknowledgement by them that they’ve created standards that we are going to have difficulty meeting, both from timeline and a cost perspective.”
Mayor Rob Saunders said the city will continue to pursue Building Canada Funds from Saskatchewan.
He said they will be looking at all the the options that are available including a talked about injection of $1 billion in federal infrastructure funds to both provinces.
“If there is an influx of dollars, those projects will be presented,” he said.
The city stated in its council report it’s unable to finance the required upgrade of the wastewater treatment facility.
“It’s a huge project at a huge cost and to date we’re not getting the kind of support we would have hoped for from our provincial partners,” said Goodhand.
She noted the city doesn’t have the borrowing power or the cash, so management has to find more creative ways build a new wastewater treatment plant.
The current facility treats effluent using a sewage lagoon aeration method.
A typical mechanical wastewater system utilizes a combination of physical, biological, and chemical processes to achieve the treatment objectives.
Mechanical treatment technologies use a series of tanks, along with pumps, blowers, screens, grinders, and other mechanical components, to treat wastewater,.
Council hopes to provide more information at the next meeting, said Goodhand.
“Senior leadership is canvassing all levels of government to see what stones we haven’t turned over yet,” said Goodhand.

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