At its meeting June 22, 2022, Municipal District of Bonnyville Council unanimously approved to close all M.D.-operated sewage treatment facilities to outside septage haulers. This closure is scheduled to go into effect on August 1, 2022.
The closure was due to the excessive amount of sludge build-up in the primary receiving cell. This sludge was migrating to the other cells in the system, causing operational issues with the treatment process. This sludge build-up was caused by unmanageable volumes of waste being trucked into the facility on a regular basis.
Private septage haulers were originally using the Fort Kent lagoon system for disposal. However, after experiencing operational issues with the increased waste volumes of septage, haulers were directed to use the larger facility in Ardmore. The Fort Kent facility was subsequently closed for outside waste hauling.
The Ardmore Lagoons (as well as the lagoons in Fort Kent and Therien) were intended to handle sewage from the residents and businesses within the hamlet, not from the entire population of the M.D. or commercial/industrial businesses.
The Ardmore facility was upgraded in 2009 to incorporate a septage hauler receiving station and primary cell upstream of the hamlet cells. It was designed for a moderate increase in materials, with the primary cell acting as a settling pond for solids, allowing the liquid waste to travel throughout the remainder of the treatment system.
As Council noted in their discussion at the June 22 meeting, this service has been provided at no charge to the haulers. Council also noted the residents of the hamlet pay for the use of the lagoon which covers the operation and maintenance expenses.
Past Issues at the Facility
In 2019, the lagoon was de-sludged as the volume of the sludge was causing operational issues and the treatment process was being affected. The same operational issues appeared in 2021, which led to the lagoon cells needing to be de-sludged again less than two years later.
Typically the de-sludging wouldn’t be required for another 10 to 15 years, depending on the volume of waste being introduced into the system. The price tag associated with getting a contractor to de-sludge the cells twice was approximately $60,000. The requirement to have it completed again this year is estimated at $50,000, which was not in the 2022 Operational Budget.
It should be noted that this would only serve as a temporary solution to the issue and a more long-term plan would still be required for sludge management if the facility were to remain open to accept outside waste. The preliminary estimates for this improvement are between $3 million to $5 million, depending on the chosen method.
Current State of the Facility
Currently, the Ardmore facility meets the present and future needs of the hamlet without any design or process changes to the facility. If hauled septage receiving is to continue, upgrades to the facility will be necessary to achieve proper treatment of the wastewater.
M.D. staff are working with the Town of Bonnyville and City of Cold Lake to ensure facilities will be available to accept rural septage.