From the Ottawa Citizen, April 5,
$27M DOWN THE DRAIN WITH
MANOTICK PIPELINE PLAN
City councillors are set to approve next week a $27million sewage
pipeline that will serve 376 homes and businesses in Manotick. Itís
an astoundingly expensive misuse of old technology thatís all but
certain to guarantee the big expansion of the village that residents
Thereís no doubt that residents in Manotickís Hillside Gardens
neighbourhood and the village core need sewers, but the cost per
household of a pipeline to the main sewer system has always been
prohibitive. It still is, but the city is using some fancy
accounting to make the big pipe plan seem reasonable.
First, the city makes $14.9 million of the cost disappear by
assuming that it will be picked up by other Manotick residents who
decide to hook up later, or by the owners of new houses. The only
problem with this is that other people in Manotick have not yet
indicated that they do want to join the sewer system. To cover this
portion of the sewer bill, the city will be relying heavily on
development in Minto-owned lands, the same development it is
prepared to go to the Ontario Municipal Board to delay.
Having cut the nominal cost to just over $12 million, the city
then assumes that half that cost should rightly be borne by other
city sewer ratepayers because some of the pipes will cross
intersections or pieces of city land. It seems a generous allowance.
The remaining $6 million will actually be paid by the homeowners and
businesses who want the sewer system. In all, the people this sewer
is being built for will pay just $6 million of the projectís
$27-million cost. The rest will be paid by you, or maybe by someone
else sometime in the future. RURAL SUMMIT II:Including some
associated road and sidewalk work, the whole cost of the Manotick
project is $35.2 million, of which $29.7 million will be debt.
The worst part is, the city has a
much more modern solution staring it in the face, right in
Manotick. The city owns a small sewage treatment plant that
serves a 68-unit townhouse development in the village using
technology from Ottawa company Seprotech Systems. It treats
sewage in a small building that looks like a garage and
discharges waste water that is cleaner than the cityís own
sewage treatment plantís effluent, says Seprotech president
Martin Hauschild. The existing plant has the capacity to serve
the core of Manotick, Hauschild says. He also contends that his
company could supply sewage treatment for Hillside Gardens at
about half the per-house cost of the cityís big pipe plan.
the cityís water manager, told a city committee that
Seprotechís Manotick plant often fails to meet provincial
effluent standards. The city is combating its own standards
Seprotech has several plants in southern Ontario and communities
around Toronto and is now expanding internationally, Hauschild says.
In total, it has 3,000 water and wastewater plants installed around
the world. The company offers a practical and relatively inexpensive
way to treat sewage in communities that are remote from central
services, but Ottawa has never been interested.
City water manager Dixon Weir told a city committee this week
that the Seprotech plant often fails to meet provincial effluent
standards. In an interview, he said the plant has had trouble
meeting standards since it opened in 2005. And yet, Seprotech had an
independent consultant do a study using the cityís own numbers
showing no problems in 2005 or 2006. There were some problems with
phosphorus amounts in late 2007.
If the technology worked for more than two years, itís odd that
it would suddenly fail just before the city wanted to argue that the
plant is no answer to Manotickís troubles. Seprotech says the higher
discharges followed a city attempt to "test" the plantís capacity by
loading it up with a truckload of sewage.
West Manotick Community Association president Brian Tansley says
people in the village favoured an onsite treatment option and that a
local company other than Seprotech had made a pitch to the city.
That option was rejected by city staff.
Itís a bit hypocritical for the city to condemn the private
companyís sewage technology. The cityís own sewage treatment has
failed to meet provincial standards for years. The city was ordered
to stop dumping contaminants from its water plants into the Ottawa
River back in 2003, but is still struggling to comply with the
provincial order. The fixup project, which costs $85 million, is
more than six months behind schedule. City sewers downtown still
discharge raw sewage into the river during heavy rains. Now
councillors want to know how much it would really cost to make the
But back in Manotick, the city wonít even consider technology
from Seprotech or its competitors, even though its discharge is
cleaner than what the city itself can produce using the kind of
environmentally friendly Canadian technology that governments always
say they want.
As the community associationís Tansley puts it, the city is
rejecting technology that has "lower cost and far less environmental
impact" in favour of an outmoded sewer pipe. Wednesday, councillors
have one last chance to get this right.
Contact at 613-596-3756
RANDALL DENLEY or by e-mail,
May 11, 2008 -
seeks apology from city -Ottawa Citizen