Winnipeg secures funding for first phase of North End sewage treatment plant overhaul

The North End Sewage Treatment Plant is also known as the North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC). Photo credit: City of Winnipeg

The North End Sewage Treatment Plant — the City of Winnipeg’s oldest and largest — has secured some $213 million for the first of three stages of upgrades, following new federal and provincial investments. 

Commissioned in 1937, the plant is one of three in Winnipeg. It processes 70% of the city’s wastewater, but must now be upgraded to increase its capacity to treat and manage wastewater and stormwater. The scope of the upcoming work includes the design and construction of a new headworks facility that will create a raw sewage pump station, a micro-tunnel extension of existing interceptor sewers, a grit removal system, a main control room, fine screens and compactors, and a plant emergency generator facility.

“A lot of people said this day would never come and that governments would not commit hundreds of millions of dollars to a sewage plant,” announced Winnipeg City Councillor Brian Mayes, chairperson of the Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, in a statement. “I am proud to be here today, to see all three levels of government cooperating on this major environmental project, knowing the positive impact this will have for years to come.”

Overall funding for all three stages of upgrades is expected to reach $1.8 billion, which means further funding will be required for upgrades such as a new facility to address nutrient removal, local officials announced. Based on recommendations from the Clean Environment Commission in 2003, Manitoba Conservation issued provincial Environment Act licences regarding treatment at the Winnipeg facility for nitrogen and phosphorus, which can lead to overgrowth of algae.

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“The upgrades include improved treatment plant technology that protects our waterways by reducing the amount of nutrients we release into our rivers and lakes, including Lake Winnipeg,” the city announced in a statement. “Upgrades will also improve our treatment of wet weather flows and address nutrient reuse and recovery, through the construction of a new biosolids processing facility.”

A new power substation will be required to meet additional power demands at the Winnipeg plant. Additionally, a new facility will need to be constructed to turn wastewater sludge into biosolids.

In July, Aecon Group Inc. announced that Red River Solutions, a 50/50 joint venture between Aecon and Oscar Renda Contracting of Canada Inc. had been awarded a $272-million design-build contract for the initial plant upgrades.

Construction is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2021, with expected completion in the second quarter of 2025.

Speaking to local media, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman called the new funding “progress”, but added, “we’ve got more work to do” in terms of overall funding required.

Under the new investments, Canada is spending more than $116.1 million on this phase of the project through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The government of Manitoba is providing over $96.7 million and the City of Winnipeg is contributing over $143 million.

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