It was history in the making today when shovels went into the dirt to signal the start of Selkirk’s new state-of-the-art Waste Water Treatment Plant and the significance of the event was not lost on Mayor Larry Johannson.
“This is an important project for the citizens of Selkirk, for so many reasons. This waste water treatment plant is the biggest capital project in the city’s vibrant 136-year history and it represents the pride council, administration and citizens feel for their city,” Johannson said.
“We have to make sure that our actions today don’t negatively impact future generations and this plant uses the best technology to ensure our kids and their kids will have the Red River and Lake Winnipeg to enjoy, just like we do today.”
Provincial and Federal Governments: proud partners
The new plant will be built behind the existing plant at 975 Main Street, $35.2 million will be equally cost shared by the city and the provincial and federal governments. The Green Municipal FundTM, delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada, contributed $750,000 and a $5 million loan. The Manitoba Water Services Board, a provincial agency, will partner with the city as the project manager and will contribute just under $250,000.
“Ensuring communities are equipped with quality water and wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential for establishing a healthy environment and supporting a high quality of life for residents,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “Our government is proud to be contributing to this historic project for the City of Selkirk, which will not only help protect the region’s vibrant waterways, but safeguard the health and well-being of its residents for generations to come.”
“Our government is proud to support the replacement of the City of Selkirk’s Waste Water Treatment Plant,” said Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton. “We are investing in strategic infrastructure projects that address local and regional priorities. This project will enable the continued growth of the City of Selkirk and protect the health of the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and surrounding lake basin communities. We are pleased to partner with the City of Selkirk and the federal government to make this project a reality.”
Making investment history
Though the plant comes with a price tag, the city has been fiscally responsible and worked hard to ensure the most minimal impact to the taxpayer. Homeowners will pay approximately half a cent extra per flush for their water, beginning this year.
Changes to provincial legislation that require treated waste water, 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.
Selkirk Chief Administrative Officer Duane Nicol said the plant is another example of how the city is taking a lead role in sustainable development, asset management and environmental stewardship.
“We’re making history today with the largest capital investment into our community ever,” Nicol said.
“This is a bold statement about Selkirk’s commitment to protecting the environment. We live beside the Red River, which flows into Lake Winnipeg, and we’re so proud to be investing in the best technology of the day to protect the health of both those bodies of water.”
The Waste Water Treatment Plant is innovative, Nicol said, making use of the best technology to treat effluent to a standard higher than provincial regulations. Knowing the magnitude of this project, the city went to great lengths to make sure it was doing things the right way.
New Plant to provide the best environmental protection
The city worked with an independent, third-party engineering firm to review seven different types of waste water treatment systems and selected the Membrane-Bioreactor Treatment process, 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 regulations change in years to come, the city will still likely meet the standards without costly retrofits or new construction.
The city’s Strategic Plan calls for safe and sustainable infrastructure and for the city to address the need for substantial capital investments. It also makes environmental stewardship a priority as well as improvement of practices and services and encouragement for environmental responsible development.
Last September, the city held an open house to connect with citizens about the waste water treatment plant. Nicol said it’s a huge project and the city always wants to engage the community in planning their future.
“It’s a big project and we’re proud of all the work that has been done over the past few years to lead us here today. We’re happy that the public was included in the process and it’s exciting to see this project get underway,” he said.
Construction starts this week and is anticipated to wrap-up January of 2020