Winnipeg aims for cost-sharing to aid $909M wastewater centre upgrades

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Four major capital infrastructure project proposals totalling just shy of $1 billion will come before the City of Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee later this week.

Nearly the entire price tag of the projects consists of two wastewater treatment projects at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre. The projects involve upgrades to the headworks and biosolids facilities at the Main Street location.

The existing sewage sludge treatment facility (biosolids) at the plant treats sludge from all three sewage treatment plants and is nearing its treatment capacity. This work will provide for a new biosolids treatment facility in order to meet regulatory requirements regarding the recovery of nutrients and maximizing biosolids reuse. The scope of this work will include new digesters, thermal hydrolysis equipment, phosphorus recovery equipment and sludge handling facilities.

For the headworks upgrade, the scope of the project is necessary for the biosolids upgrade and nutrient removal facilities projects designed to address regulatory requirements. The project will also include replacement of end-of-life equipment. The provincial government requires more stringent licence requirements, including nutrient loading, limits for phosphorus and nitrogen, along with the requirement to sustainably reuse biosolids.

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“These new licence requirements cannot be met by the existing plant processes and some equipment must be upgraded to meet the new process demands. In addition, several components and facilities have reached their end of service life and must be replaced to maintain reliable operation,” a City report states.

The headworks project is currently in the procurement stage. The estimated project duration is seven years.

“Building Winnipeg and moving our city and province forward on addressing its infrastructure deficit requires partnerships with provincial and federal governments,” announced Winnipeg Mayor, Brian Bowman. “What’s coming forward for review by Executive Policy Committee and ultimately Council is a prioritization of major infrastructure projects that require strong federal and provincial funding partners in order to get them built,” he added.

The North End Water Pollution Control Centre was commissioned in 1937 as a treatment plant with digestion of sludge and serves more than 400,000 residents.

“As a city, we remain committed to doing our part to protect and improve the water quality of our rivers and lakes,” said Mayor Bowman. “However, Winnipeg residents and property taxpayers simply cannot be expected to incur costs of this magnitude on their own.”

The projects are expected to be submitted for federal and provincial funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. If approved, they would be cost-shared by each level of government, with the federal government contributing 40%, the provincial government contributing 33.33%, and the city government contributing 26.67% of the total eligible costs. These capital projects would be eligible for federal and provincial partnership funding of up to $643.4 million.

In late August, the City of Winnipeg submitted its final Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan to the Province of Manitoba. It outlines the city’s commitment to do its part to reduce the impact of combined sewer overflows on rivers and lakes, including Lake Winnipeg. The Master Plan is expected to be implemented over several decades at a capital cost estimated to be $2.3 billion.

The remaining two infrastructure projects coming before Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee consist of a recreation centre project and a civic centre expansion.

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