When the city’s new $39.5 million wastewater treatment plant breaks ground this summer, it signals not only Selkirk’s commitment to the environment but a focus on improved capital asset management that will benefit the people of Selkirk for years to come.
Selkirk received a $750,000 grant, along with a $5 million loan, from the Green Municipal FundTM (GMF) for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. GMF supports initiatives that advance innovative solutions to environmental challenges. These projects improve air, water and land quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generate economic and social benefits to local communities. Through GMF, municipalities share lessons learned and successful new models for advancing sustainability in communities of all sizes in all regions across Canada.
GMF is a $625 million program, delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada.
“FCM is proud to help communities like the City of Selkirk lead the way on the triple bottom line — environmental, social and economic sustainability,” said FCM President, Vicki-May Hamm.
“Projects like these have a tangible impact on both the environment and the lives of local residents. At the same time, this is the kind of local innovation that can inspire other communities on the path to a greener Canada.”
Mayor Larry Johannson said the grant helps Selkirk as it works towards sustainable solutions to be a greener city.
“Council is extremely proud that Selkirk has received this funding. Not only does it reduce the cost for citizens, it is a recognition of the hard work we are doing to reduce our environmental footprint,” the Mayor said.
New plant to provide the best environmental protection
Changes to provincial legislation that require treated wastewater, or effluent, to contain no more than 1mg/L of phosphorus and 15 mg/L of nitrogen necessitated the replacement of the city’s current treatment plant, built in 1976. The current plant is non-compliant and has reached the end of its lifecycle. Renovating the existing plant would not be cost effective.
Knowing the magnitude of this project, the city went to great lengths to make sure it was doing things the right way. The city worked with an independent, third party engineering firm to review seven different types of wastewater treatment systems. Ultimately, the Membrane-Bioreactor Treatment process was selected, as it provides the best environmental protection for the Red River and Lake Winnipeg and it will be cost effective over the full life of the plant.
The new plant will produce an exceptionally high quality of effluent, so if regulation changes in years to come, the city will still likely meet the standards without costly retrofits or new construction.
“The Government of Canada is pleased to be partnering with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to support green infrastructure projects like this new waste water treatment plant in Selkirk,” said The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
“This project will combine more efficient operations with a better treatment process to bring residents cleaner air and waterways while promoting sustainable economic growth and a strong middle class.”
Securing GMF grant means win for the environment and the people of Selkirk
The City’s Strategic Plan Priority 5 is Environmental Stewardship and it calls on the city to protect natural features and resources by improving city practices and services and encouraging more environmentally responsible development.
The city has also been focusing on public engagement for all large projects, which gives citizen the opportunity to view plans and details prior to the construction of planned projects. The city held an open house for the new wastewater treatment plant in September 2017.
Selkirk Chief Administrative Officer Duane Nicol said the Strategic Plan makes it clear that the city must consider environmental impacts in all its decisions. When combined with the city’s dedication to improved capital asset management, the result is a win for the environment and a win for the people of Selkirk.
“The city has done its homework and being able to secure a GMF grant is proof of that. The application process and decisioning process is rigorous. This grant is a real badge of honor for our project team. The new plant will utilize the best technology available and we know that the public is concerned about being environmentally responsible, as are we,” Nicol said.
“The Membrane-Bioreactor Treatment Process that was selected provides the best environmental protection for the Red River and Lake Winnipeg and will be cost-effective over the full life of the plant.”
Other environmental benefits include the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 159 tonnes of CO2 annually, reduction of total suspended solids, reduction of E-Coli levels, protection of the aquifer and improved quality of effluent water.