City, sewage haulers work on solutions to Wastewater Transfer Station issue

“We make mistakes,” admits Councillor Bruce Christensen. “We don’t like to make mistakes, but we do make mistakes. We like to recognize our mistakes, and I appreciate you and the rest of the assembled and the suggestions that were brought forward today on how we can solve this issue and move forward.” 

Facing stricter federal wastewater systems effluent regulations starting in January 2015, the City recently decided to close the station as of December 31, 2014, and reduce its hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday starting October 1, 2013 until the closure. There have been issues with disallowed types of waste being brought in that cause problems, and the City is considered responsible for whatever it lets into its system.

“You’re bringing in what you believe to be legitimate domestic sewage. What if there’s something in that tank that you’re unaware of?” Mayor Lori Ackerman asks. “The reality is, once the City accepts it, we are now responsible for it, and the federal government and the provincial government have increased their regulations so that we are liable for it.” 

Based on the average number of loads it accepts, Director of Integrated Services Victor Shopland believes the trucks should be able to dump within the regular work day schedule, although with less convenience. However, the waste disposal businesses believe service will be backed up within two weeks of the change in hours. 

“You can’t put your truck into high gear instead of low gear to do twice as many sewers in that nine hour period,” argues Carol Kube of Nor-Vac Industrial Services. “You can only pack so many in there in that nine hour period. You can’t fit more in there!” 

A number of temporary solutions were presented, including having the station open 12 hours a day 6 days a week, implementing a stricter screening process for access, and charging more per cubic metre to cover the cost of monitoring the station. 

“Just let the proper people do it; now you have a way to track it,” suggests one rural resident. “Put a bond on them. If you guys can supply it, you can dump here, because if something goes wrong, you people are going to pay for it.”  

“If it’s more money needed for staffing, bill us residents more per cube, relative to that cost,” adds another. “I don’t have problem paying; I have a problem not getting rid of it.” 

City Council is able to prepare a resolution and vote on it electronically before the end of the month should it choose.

As for long term plans, the Peace River Regional District has gotten the ball rolling on building its own facility for rural residents, with staff now looking into options for having a waste and water function, as it currently does not have the authority. However, Chief Administrative Officer Fred Banham and Deputy CAO Shannon Anderson were at the meeting, and said it could still take a couple of year before it could build a facility. 

Ackerman also concluded that should things be cleaned up by the end of 2014, the decision to close the station could be reconsidered.

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About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.