Town and municipality sharing sewer plant

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on February 24, 2013
Mayor Ben Cleveland discussed the waste treatment process with plant operator John Louis earlier this year. File/Delong photo

Digby’s sewage and wastewater is now being treated in Smith’s Cove.

The town is in the final stages of a $3.8 million project to upgrade the municipality’s waste water treatment plant in Smith’s Cove, install pumps in Digby to push their waster water to Smith’s Cove and to close up the town’s sewage treatment plant at the south end of Queen Street.

Town CAO Tom Ossinger says the project is about 90 per cent complete.

“There is some minor tweaking of the operations and some landscaping, but the facility is operational,” he says.

Ossinger s proud of the project and what it means for taxpayers.

“The Digby Regional Wastewater Facility in Smith’s Cove is just one example of how neighbouring municipal units can cooperate to provide essential services to their citizens using economies of scale to save local tax dollars,” he says.

The Smith’s Cove facility began discharging treated effluent again on Wednesday, Feb. 6. They had ceased discharging in the fall in order to amass enough liquid to commission the new blowers.

New blowers were commissioned in Smith’s Cove on Monday, Dec. 17 and the new pumps in Digby started sending waster water to Smith’s Cove on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

That means an end to the hauling of sludge from the Digby plant which was costing the town in the vicinity of $100,000 a year.

The decommissioning of the Digby plant took place the next day on Thursday, Dec. 20 and the Nova Scotia Department of Environment cancelled the town’s approval to operate a sewage treatment plant on Queen Street on Jan. 23.

The Smith’s Cove plant meanwhile began operating under a new joint-approval to operate, possibly the only joint approval to operate a wastewater treatment facility in the province.

Initially when the town and municipality applied for joint approval, Environment told them the approval could only be in the name of one municipal unit, not two.

Under an inter-municipal agreement, the town paid for the upgrades to the Smith’s Cove plant to enable it to handle the extra flow from the Digby area and the town will pay for its share of the operations.

Flow metres will measure how much wastewater is flowing from the Digby area and the town will pay for 65 per cent of that.

That’s because the Digby area waste water includes waste water from Lighthouse Road, Mount Pleasant, Conway, Pleasant Street and from along Hwy 217. That used to be treated at the town’s facility on Queen Street under the same 65-35 agreement.

The initial budget for the project was $3.5 million – approximately $1 million to convert the Queen Street treatment plant into a pumping station, $1.2 million for the pipeline to Smith’s Cove under the rails to trails, and $1.2 million for the new lagoon in Smith’s Cove.

Each level of government (the town, the province and the federal government) paid a third or $1.167 million of the original

 approved budget.

Changes to legislation added about $300,000 and a fourth phase to the project—new specifications meant the town needed to add a second UV treatment system as back up or to use simultaneously in case of extreme rainfall amounts flowing into the system.

The town paid for the fourth phase with federal gas tax money.

Ossinger says some parts from the Queen Street site will go for scrap and some of the operating equipment will be disbursed of via tender.

The waster water upgrades began after extraordinary rainfalls in 2008 overwhelmed the town’s Queen Street plant. The whole Annapolis Basin was closed to clam diggers for weeks under shellfish harvesting regulations. The town spent an extra $300,000 in 2008-2009 to address problems with their 35-year-old treatment facility.