Sewage plant upgrades approved
Thunder Bay is going ahead with improvements to the Pacific Avenue sewage treatment plant in an effort to prevent future flooding.
At Monday’s meeting, council formally approved two long-term measures — both of which were first presented to council in December — which will act as safety measures should the plant face another situation like the one that led to the last May’s catastrophic flooding in Thunder Bay.
Heavy rainfall let to the plant’s preliminary treatment area to be overwhelmed with water. That water spread to other areas of the plant, eventually reaching the drywell and submerging the plant’s massive pumps, shutting them down. Once that happened, water pouring into the city’s sewer system couldn’t be pumped out and water and sewage backed up into hundreds of homes. The affected East End neighbourhood was declared a disaster area in the aftermath.
One of the measures approved Monday is the construction of a channel that will let water bypass the preliminary treatment area should flows get too high. The other measure includes alterations to the screens in the preliminary treatment area, which are comprised of vertical bars spaced about half an inch apart, and are designed to remove large debris.
In May, the water flows were so high the debris piled up, in turn preventing water from passing through the screens properly. With Monday’s approval, the plant will be altered so that the screens are automatically cleared of debris more often.
The cost of the work is $1.4 million, and it will be included in the 2013 budget, on which deliberations begin tonight.
“Once the budget for 2013 is ratified, administration will engage the appropriate consultant engineers and design teams to design the bypass, followed by tendering for construction,” said Darrell Matson, the city’s manager of infrastructure and operations. “We’re looking at about three months for engineering, and about nine months for construction.”
Matson said the city has already taken some short-term measures at the plant, which will remain in place until the long-term solutions have been implemented.