News Local

Council saves money at wastewater treatment facility

Ashli Barrett, Lacombe Globe

Lacombe City Council has approved the use of a new biological treatment to desludge four lagoon cells at the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
The method, provided by Acti-zyme, involves adding enzymes and bacteria to the wastewater to break down sludge –  a buildup of organic and inorganic compounds – with a non-toxic product that guarantees zero damage to aeration equipment.
It also comes well under the approved budget of $360,500 in 2016 and $360,500 in 2017 at $256,760 for both years, including a seasonal labourer and equipment to apply the product.
Money left over would be allocated to the 2016 Lagoon Covers project approved earlier this year.
“I’m excited about this. I’m excited about the reduction in costs,” said Coun. Reuben Konnik. “The fact they’re not touching our aeration equipment is even better, and the fact it will free up some money for lagoon covers is terrific.”
Typically, heavy equipment in the form of mechanical dredgers are used to mix up the sludge bed and suction it to the top for removal, followed by land application or landfill disposal. With both floating and submerged aeration lines in the lagoons, however, the process has become not only risky to equipment, but costly.
Traditional dredging proposals received by the city reached up to $1.5-million, and only two of the six proposals received were within the city’s budget.
While Acti-zyme’s biological treatment was much lower than the other proposals, Coun. Wayne Armishaw said he’d like to see if the product couldn’t be found cheaper still.
“They charge quite heavily for the product – that’s what you’re buying is a product,” he said. “They’re not doing anything. They’re selling you pails of enzymes.
“It’s nice they sold us a less expensive way of doing it. Now let’s see if we can find a less expensive product to do it.”
Coun. Peter Bouwsema, however, said the project needed to move forward sooner rather than later.
“We are required to do something and do something fairly quickly. I believe we need to proceed with this,” he said.
The method, however, is not without risks of its own.
The effectiveness of the product and the removal and decrease in sludge can vary from lagoon to lagoon.
“That is the risk,” said Matthew Goudy, Director of Operations and Planning Services. “You wouldn’t see complete removal of the sludge. You might see, rather than 11 per cent of the total volume of sludge, three per cent or five per cent removal.
“One of the reasons we thought it was worth the risk is the relatively short period that this process needs to last the City of Lacombe.”
The City is set to join the regional wastewater line upon its completion.

Other Council Notes:
More than 40 Lacombe residents were in attendance for a public hearing on Land Use Bylaw 400 (LUB).
Resident after resident addressed council on a number of issues from confusion with the bylaw, opposition to being rezoned, traffic concerns as a result of rezoning, to the attractiveness – or lack thereof – of certain subdivisions as a result of multi-dwelling units, garden suites and care facilities.
Some pleaded with council to not turn the City of Lacombe into a “postage stamp city like so many others,” and to listen to residents’ concerns.
Residents got what they asked for. Council heard, and deferred second reading of the LUB until September, following the Sept. 6 council committee meeting.
“I believe we need to have a good, frank discussion about many of these items, but it’s going to end up being two to three hours,” said Coun. Peter Bouwsema, citing items of discretion as one of his concerns.
Coun. Wayne Rempel agreed, as did Coun. Reuben Konnik.
“This is an intense document, an important document,” said Konnik. “It’s one that’s long overdue, so let’s try and get it right.”

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