Two critical wastewater projects received grant funding from the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership.
The grants were approved after submissions were made by the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission (CLRUSC).
The commission, chaired by Councillor Bob Buckle, is comprised of members from the City of Cold Lake, M.D. of Bonnyville, Cold Lake First Nations, and 4 Wing.
It owns the water and wastewater treatment plant, as well as the major sanitary sewer lift stations in the City of Cold Lake, and contracts water and wastewater operations to the city.
While the commission’s potable water customers include the City of Cold Lake, the Department of National Defence, and Cold Lake First Nations, its sole customer for wastewater services is the City of Cold Lake.
With increasing federal and provincial environmental regulations governing the release of treated effluent, and the fact that the Beaver River is already heavily loaded with nutrients upstream of the effluent outflow, the commission has come under increasing pressure to fund a new wastewater treatment facility capable of meeting environmental standards well into the future.
A recent pilot project identified a treatment technology that can meet the requirements for a total project cost of approximately $20 million.
The technology, known as a moving bed biofilm reactor, was previously untested in northern Alberta’s climate. Early results from the pilot project were positive and the final report, due in the near future, is expected give the technology a green light as a means to meet the city’s wastewater treatment needs.
Prior designs based on more traditional technologies in the region would have come with a final price tag of $50 to $80 million.
“This is welcome news from the Government of Alberta and takes our number-one capital priority a significant step closer to becoming a reality,” CLRUSC Chairman Bob Buckle said. “The commission’s focus now will quickly shift to shoring up the remaining funding for the project.
“Financing the project would have implications for the water rates charged to residents and businesses, so this option must be carefully balanced with other available funding sources.”
The grants, announced to Buckle in a letter from Alberta’s Transportation Minister, the Honourable Ric McIver, will cover just over 29 per cent of the fourth phase of an upgrade to the Building 9 Force Main, to a maximum of about $707,000.
The grant for the Wastewater Treatment Facility’s mechanical upgrades will cover just over 29 per cent of that project, up to a maximum of about $5.8 million.
The minister’s letter indicated that these grants were made possible by additional funding available through the Government of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.
“Alberta’s government launched our Recovery Plan to create thousands of good jobs for Albertans by building schools, roads and other core infrastructure that benefits Albertans and communities,” Minister McIver said.
“We are happy to work with our municipal partners at the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission to fix critical water infrastructure and make sure Albertans have access to clean drinking water.
“I want to thank MLA Dave Hanson for his continued advocacy for his constituents and keeping the needs of Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul front and centre for us in Transportation.”
Earlier this year, Cold Lake City Council voted to fund the design of the new wastewater treatment facility at an estimated cost of $1 million.
The design is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.