News Local

$21-million wastewater plant opened

By John Phair

Local officials were on hand May 7 for the formal opening of Petrolia’s new wastewater treatment plant. From left: Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey, Mayor John McCharles, Lambton County Warden Bill Weber, CIMA+ representatives Tom Montgomery, Troy Briggs and Brian Sudic, contractor Stone Town representative Scott Taylor and Jacobs representative Cathy Culman. John Phair/Special to The Topic

Local officials were on hand May 7 for the formal opening of Petrolia’s new wastewater treatment plant. From left: Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey, Mayor John McCharles, Lambton County Warden Bill Weber, CIMA+ representatives Tom Montgomery, Troy Briggs and Brian Sudic, contractor Stone Town representative Scott Taylor and Jacobs representative Cathy Culman. John Phair/Special to The Topic

The Town of Petrolia launched operations at its new $21-million wastewater facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local dignitaries on May 7.

Mayor John McCharles said with the facility up and running, the gates are now open to further development in Petrolia.

“This is the town’s largest infrastructure project, ever,” said McCharles. “The old plant was at its capacity and this represents a big step forward.”

McCharles said the project also garnered the largest amount of grant money Petrolia has ever received from the federal and provincial governments.

Two-thirds of the project’s cost, representing nearly $14.3 million, was provided through the Small Communities Fund, a joint initiative of federal and provincial governments to help small communities with populations below 100,000 make improvements and upgrades to local infrastructure.

“This presents many opportunities for further development and expansion of area businesses and secures the future of Petrolia,” said McCharles.

“We are extremely grateful for the federal and provincial partnership on this project.”

McCharles thanked MP Marilyn Gladu and MPP Bob Bailey, who he noted were instrumental in securing the funding.

Tom Montgomery of CIMA+, who did the engineering on the project, said the project had been planned for more than a decade.

He noted that in 2011 the town initiated a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) study to identify the best solution, design concept, and implementation plan to provide reliable wastewater treatment capacity for the existing service area as well as projected population growth.

“At that time we had an old facility that had been in operation for nearly 40 years,” he said.

“The study identified that the old plant needed significant upgrades, with much of its equipment well past its useful life and obsolete.”

In addition, he said meet the town’s projected population growth, the plant’s flow capacity had to be increased and its major processes replaced.

The new plant has a wastewater flow capacity of 5,123 square metres per day compared to the old plant’s capacity of 3,800 square meters, he said.

Environmental advancements in the new plant include secondary treatment facilities designed to provide advanced ammonia removal as well as a new tertiary filtration process that accommodates advanced phosphorus removal.

Bailey congratulated the mayor, council, and town staff for their vision and work in completing the project.

Warden Bill Weber brought greetings on behalf of the county and said it was a great day for Petrolia and for Lambton County.

“When you build a facility that’s looking to the future and will protect the environment for the next generation, it’s always a good day,” he said. “If it’s good for Petrolia, it’s good for Lambton County.”

Petrolia’s director of operations, Mike Thompson, said it was an honour for him to be part of the project for the past two and a half years.

He thanked engineering firm CIMA+ and the contractor, Stonetown, for their hard work and cooperation on the project and also praised (CH2M) Jacobs for their continued expertise in operating the plant.

Petrolia CAO and treasurer Rick Charlebois noted that the town financing its portion of the project in accordance with its approved Asset Management Plan and established reserves.