• Jim Mosher

Odour from Gimli sewage plant continues

Gimli Coun. Thora Palson, chair of public works, says $1 million is being invested in odour mitigation at the wastewater treatment plant.

Dogged for more than a year by odour problems at its industrial park sewage treatment plant, Gimli is again responding to concerns raised by residents of Aspen Park who say the smells emanating from the plant were particularly oppressive over the Easter long weekend.

The latest edition of council, elected last fall, says the plant expansion project, now under way, will, when completed, fully address the odour problem. The plant expansion is expected to be completed in 2020.

In the meantime, every effort has been made to mitigate the odour issue, says public works chairwoman Thora Palson.

“This is frustrating,” Mayor Lynn Greenberg said April 23. “It was to be finished this July. It’s probably going to be a whole other year.”

The current Gimli mayor and council say they’re working on addressing recent complaints from residents of Aspen Park, home to about 400 people. Aspen Park is just east of the industrial park, and its residents are among the first affected by odours emanating from the wastewater treatment plant.

The $18-million expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, expected to be completed in 2020, began two years ago. Kingdom Construction was awarded a $12-million for the construction phase in December 2017. The $18 million will include installation of specialized equipment not included in the overall construction cost.

Public works chairwoman Palson says Gimli has the best and brightest working on the odour problem. “There are different concerns that have come out of the construction,” she said. “There were certainly some roadblocks came up when we went to install that third basin. We have a team of really great engineers. We’re working with a reputable construction company. In this project, there’s being over $1 million invested in odour control.”

Palson noted that the installation of the third basin will “probably take another few months.” (This 'third basin' is located in the new section. It is commonly referred to as a sequencing batch reactor, a critical piece in the treatment process.)

“There’s also ventilation going in that’s going to help the air quality and odour control,” she added. “And we’re of course operating very closely with the province. The environmental licensing agency is with us every step. Every time we come to a challenge in construction or something that wasn’t planned happens, the first thing we do is reach out to an environmental officer.”

In addition, Palson says the municipality has “done different things to mitigate the [odour] problem.”

“For example, last fall the sewage haulers were going to different facilities.”

Goldfield Dr. storm drainage project back again for this year

Gail Mastin raised the concerns about odour during council’s financial hearing. “It’s been one disaster after another,” she said, referring simultaneously to the treatment plant and pollutants flowing into the lake from other sources.

Chief administrative officer Joann Murphy explained that the diversion of pollutants coming off the land west of Gimli enter the local stormwater system, which empties into Lake Winnipeg, is being addressed. The plan is to draw in that land drainage at the main drain on Goldfield Drive.

“What we’re trying to do is control the flow that comes off the land during a rainfall,” Murphy said. “When comes down the road and it gets into the beach, it contains animal waste, fertilizer. We have a project that’s in play right now where we’re trying to take the drainage, especially in the urban centre, and put it into one lift station. That lift station would have the potential to gather that water, then it would treat it to a certain point. Then it will be put [further] out into the lake where it would be diluted.”

The project was to advance last year, but lake levels were too low, Murphy said.

In its current-year capital spending plan, the municipality projects spending $690,477 on the Goldfield Dr. drainage project, replete with a lift station for initial treatment and the piping required to carry that water further out into the lake. This particular spending will be borne be reserves.

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