Water Monitoring System Report

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In February, the Peterborough Utility Group presented its annual report on the Water and Wastewater systems for Millbrook.  Water reports like these are taken very seriously by all municipalities.  After the mismanagement of the Walkerton water system, the province introduced strict statutory standards of care for local water treatment plants with personal liability for elected officials if they do not adhere to the established standards, with penalties that include fines and imprisonment.  To ensure these systems are operating properly, the local Water and Wastewater facility is subject to mandatory monitoring by the Ministry of the Environment which examines the quality and quantity of water processed every day.

Think of the system as a loop, where water is removed from three municipal wells under a Permit to Take Water, which authorizes the removal of up to 3,000 cubic meters of water per day.  According to the Drinking Water Report prepared by the Peterborough Utility Group which operates the plant, in 2018 the average daily draw was 436 cubic meters, or 16% of the facility’s rated capacity.  The plant was built to boost water processing capacity to accommodate new residential development, raising the residential service potential from roughly 700 users to more than 2,000.

Water drawn from these wells is treated to ensure it meets drinking standards and is released into the municipal water system for use in local homes and businesses.  It returns to the plant in the form of wastewater or sewage, where it is subjected to a treatment process that removes contaminants through a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes to produce environmentally safe treated wastewater (or treated effluent).   The semi-solid waste or slurry undergoes further treatment prior to its disposal.   Relying on state-of-the-art technology, the new plant produces effluent that exceeds current water quality standards.  This treated wastewater flows directly into the Baxter Creek watershed, which ultimate feeds the municipal wells.

According to the report, this wastewater system was operating at 32% on average.  The higher volume flowing through the wastewater treatment plant is attributed in part to leaking sewer lines that allow ground water to enter the system, and the occasional sump pump that is directed into the municipal sewer system in addition to the residential flow through the water pipes.  The township is part way through a four year program to reline existing sewer pipes, a move that avoids the cost of removing and replacing sewer lines, cutting the expense by 80% while extending the useful lives of the lines by 40 years.

In the plant’s 2018 annual inspection, the system received a 100% rating, meaning it was completely compliant with regulations, with no adverse water quality tests or water quality complaints reported.

Since the Walkerton fiasco, water systems are among the most scrutinized facilities across the province.   It seems ours is working as expected, with plenty of capacity, and after an investment of $21 million, so it should be.  KG

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