CORNER BROOK — The City of Corner Brook says it is still awaiting more specifics on what the new federal wastewater treatment regulations will mean for the municipality.
The regulations, which were announced last week, stipulate municipalities will not only have to implement primary treatment to remove solids from wastewater, but also secondary treatment to remove other materials such as residual amounts of chlorine and ammonia before the wastewater can be returned to the environment.
Corner Brook currently does not treat its sewage at all, but does have a sewage treatment plan on its books. That plan, however, involves a phased-in approach that would have seen a primary-treatment system put in place with the possibility of secondary treatment to follow.
"We are currently reviewing the regulations with our prime consultant on the topic and trying to prepare a review of the regulations to see how they will impact the city," said Steve May, the City of Corner Brook's director of operational services.
The regulations come with timelines attached. Depending on whether a municipality is considered a high, medium or low risk, it could have to implement sewage treatment by either 2020, 2030 or 2040.
The designations have not yet been announced, but Corner Brook is expected to fall into the high-risk category and be required to comply by the 2020 date. May does not know when the designation will be determined, but expects it to come out in the next couple of months.
"We are waiting on the direction of that and an interpretation of exactly what will be required because of the regulations," he said.
"We have reviewed the regulations as published, but there is an awful lot of detail included there, so we're waiting for a summary to come from the consultant before we choose any direction on this," said May.
The cost estimate on a new sewage treatment facility, like the one in the consultant's report adopted by the city in 2006, is now estimated to be in the $60-million range. Even if cost-shared equally with the provincial and federal governments, it could mean a $20-million cost for the city.
"That's a serious concern for the city because the dollar figures that came out of the original estimate on this were way beyond the capacity of the city," said May. "That one will be of keen interest to us as we go forward."