Public Information Session Examines Ways to Address Future Water Service Capacity

Water services are delivered by municipalities in areas of dense settlements- villages, towns and cities.  In Cavan-Monaghan, the only serviced settlement is Millbrook.  The township is in the process of completing a Water and Wastewater Master Servicing Study which is required under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.  The objective is to determine how the township might address the water servicing needs of the growth that was forecast in our 2022 Growth Management Strategy (GMS).  The GMS identified potential population and employment growth thirty years out, projecting a potential residential population in Millbrook of 10,455 by 2051, up from the 2021 levels of 2,558.  It also projected that the number of employees working in this area could rise more than four-fold to almost 4,000 over the same period.

The Water and Wastewater Master Servicing study is being led by the engineering consulting firm, R.V. Anderson Associates Limited.  The study will identify and evaluate immediate and long term servicing strategies to meet the needs of these new arrivals.  It will provide a conceptual plan to deliver water services to new development and outline the expected financial and environmental impact on our community.   We’re talking infrastructure- pumps, pipes, waste water treatment and water storage and of course, supply.  The good news is, the cost of all of this new infrastructure will be funded by development charges collected from the builders because all of it will be triggered by growth.

The existing system was built in 2016 and was built to accommodate growth.  Despite the rapid growth experienced so far, the current plant still has capacity. According to the study, it is  operating at roughly half capacity.

Because of the long lead times required to develop and install infrastructure, water servicing capacity must be anticipated well in advance.  Anderson’s report suggests that projects should be started when the demand approaches 85% of an existing system’s capacity.  The GMS indicates that this could occur as early as 2029, depending on the actual rate of growth, which is why the township has commissioned this study now.

There are three components to water infrastructure: water supply; water storage and water treatment.  Alternative solutions for each component were evaluated in order to identify those that best addressed the need, including limiting growth or connecting to an external water supply such as the one owned by the City of Peterborough.  Solutions had to address the issue, be technically and economically feasible and be able to be implemented without significant impacts.

On the water supply front, the recommended solution was to expand the existing groundwater well supply within the township.  Hydrogeological studies will be required to confirm adequate quantity and quality of water supply to address growth needs.

Water storage is the next barrier to consider.  Our current standpipe is projected to reach 85% of its rated capacity in 2027, meaning additional water storage will be needed by 2029.   A new water storage facility will be required, likely at a new location.

The wastewater story follows the same path: our current treatment plant reaches 85% of its capacity in 2029 based on the growth projections, meaning new treatment capacity will be required by 2031.  The study recommends expanding our existing plant to meet the anticipated growth.

Obviously there are huge assumptions in these forecasts.  However given the provincial pressure for new residential developments and the lead time required to accommodate their water service needs, it’s better to anticipate them early to avoid being pressured into making any hasty decisions.   Much more work will be done before decisions or project details are established.  The completion of the Master Servicing Study Report is anticipated in early 2024, when there will be more opportunity for public review and comment.  Until then, it’s unlikely that the demand for new housing will let up and delay the need for new services.    KG

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