Fix pipes in next five years: study
A $32-million project to replace sanitary sewer pipes in Fort Frances in the next five years is the main recommendation in a new study town council received at its meeting Monday night.
The town has been treating more water than it’s been producing at the water treatment plant because of groundwater and surface run-off infiltrating the sanitary sewer system.
This information will be used to develop a long-term municipal infrastructure renewal program to rectify the problem.
“We’ve always known we’ve had a big problem with infiltration in town, judging by the water we put into the system at the water treatment plant versus the amount we process at the sewage treatment plant,” Coun. Paul Ryan said after Monday’s meeting.
“So we had this study done in order to find out exactly where the problems are.
“They’ve been identified,” he added, though noting KGS Group had trouble getting all the information it wanted due to the physical characteristics of the area.
“It’s so flat here that, in a rain event, the flow meters didn’t really indicate what we hoped they would,” Coun. Ryan explained.
“But all in all, the study is very well done and we have a lot of areas we have to look at, a lot of spot repairs, and I know that you’re spending money on an old pipe.”
KGS Group has recommended a two-phase project to replace 5.703 km of sanitary sewer pipe, along with several spot repairs.
This should take place in a five-year timeframe, the company said, with the cost to complete the work pegged at $32 million.
“If you read the report, to keep up and to go further on down the line, within the next five years, we have to spend [$32 million] on our piping
system,” said Coun. Ryan.
“That probably won’t happen because where would we get it [the money] from?” he wondered.
He added the town will have to look to other funding sources to enable it to do this work, citing a push by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the federal government to develop a new long-term plan for municipal infrastructure funding as an example.
Coun. Ryan said figuring out to how to pay to repair and replace infrastructure isn’t just a local problem, but one shared by municipalities across the province and country.
“Canada’s [infrastructure] deficit right now is $160 billion,” he noted. “In Ontario, it’s $60 billion over the next five years.
“Everybody’s in the same boat,” he stressed. “We’ll try our hardest to get as much money as we can from senior levels of government to help us out in this matter.”
Coun. Ryan said council knew the costs stated in the report would be high, given there are pipes dating back to 1906 feeding the hospital.
With that in mind, council has been setting aside dollars specifically for sewer and water work, and taking every opportunity to replace sewer and water infrastructure where and when possible.
Coun. Ryan said the next step is to try and get funding from senior levels of government and put capital funds towards new piping.
Council accepted the KGS report, and agreed that the town will continue to address the infiltration and inflow loading into the sanitary sewer collection system in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report in a cost-effective manner.
They also agreed the report’s findings be taken into account when developing municipal infrastructure asset management plans.