Amherstburg water treatment plant

Water and wastewater rates to see minimal increases



By Ron Giofu


Water and wastewater rates are on the rise in the Town of Amherstburg.

Town council has approved a five per cent increase to the water rate and a 1.3 per cent increase to the wastewater increase. Treasurer Justin Rousseau stated in a report to town council that the increases are in accordance with the long-term financial stability plan outlined in the town’s asset management plan.

The water rate increase would translate into an average annual billing increase from $458 to $467, or a $9 average increase. The wastewater increase would see bills rise, on average, from $779 to $785, or $6.

“Based on the recommended user rate adjustments, the average consumer of both water and wastewater in the town would see a household effect of $15 a year, or 4 cents a day,” Rousseau said in his report to town council.

Rousseau stated in his report that one of the main cost drivers for water is the operation and maintenance of the Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant.

“When our water costs are compared to other municipalities who operate their own plants (Essex and Lakeshore), we are actually the lowest of the three municipalities,” Rousseau stated in his report. “Our water distribution network is very large, servicing homes well into Essex, causing additional costs to provide standard maintenance.”

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The town is currently operating six separate wastewater facilities across the town, Rousseau added, with those all requiring operating and maintenance costs.

“The recent reconstruction of the Amherstburg Wastewater Treatment Plant has also added additional pressure to the rate,” he stated.

According to Rousseau’s report, when water and wastewater charges are compared to other municipalities around Windsor-Essex County, Amherstburg ranks fourth in water and second in wastewater. Rousseau used base charges and volumetric charges, the latter being based on 20 cubic metres per month.

However, Rousseau estimated the total billing amounts based on his figures, Amherstburg had the second highest billing total in the area.

The revenue and expenses for the water budget are $4,699,000 and $6,255,775 for the wastewater budget.

Councillor Diane Pouget said council is obligated to ensure the town has clean water, stating the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and the town’s departments “do a tremendous job” keep the town’s water safe.

Pouget said the total amount of the increase is $15 per year.

The Amherstburg wastewater treatment plant.

“I think it’s a small price to pay to make sure our facilities are up-to-date,” she said.

Councillor Rick Fryer believed the town can be proud of the work that is being done, noting the feedback from people he receives is that “they love the taste of our water.”

Councillor Joan Courtney agreed, stating she can’t taste the difference between tap water and bottled water.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – The original story and the story in the June 6 print issue stated that Councillor Diane Pouget said it was a $15 per month increase. The online story has been changed to correctly reflect that Councillor Pouget said it was a $15 per year increase. The RTT apologizes for the error.)

Town lands $3.7 million in funding for water treatment plant upgrades


By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg has received some good news as it relates to upgrades at the water treatment plant.

The town has received over $3.7 million for upgrades to the reservoir at the water treatment plant. The funding was received under the federal government’s Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

According to a report from director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau: “The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant currently only has one water storage in-ground reservoir. Water storage reservoirs are required to ensure that adequate supply of water is maintained to meet peak water demands or emergencies such as fires, water main breaks, power outages and pump failures. The existing reservoir is old and showing extensive deterioration. In 2003 and 2010, the town performed emergency reservoir repairs due to excessive leaking of treated water from the reservoir. Further failures and repairs are anticipated as the structure ages.”

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

Rousseau noted the construction of reservoir would take place in two phases, with the first being the construction of a new 14,800 cubic meter reservoir and the second phase being two 7,400 cubic meter cells being built within the existing reservoir footprint. The cost of the second phase is not known at the present time, he added, with an assessment of infrastructure to be undertaken after the first phase.

While the grant is good news, there is still more money needed in the future.

“The town’s Long-Term Strategic Financial Plan and Water Model identify the need to invest over $30 million in water infrastructure in the next ten years,” stated Rousseau. “Furthermore, the town presently has little in reserves in the water division and has one of the higher rates in the region for water. This successful grant application will assist the town in securing future development and providing water at a reasonable rate thus assisting the town’s long term sustainability.”

CAO John Miceli pointed out that town council received a private and confidential memo about other projects needed at the Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant. He indicated administration is “examining all options for the delivery of clean water” in Amherstburg.

Miceli said a new plan might come before council on how to deliver clean water to the residents.

“I want to be very clear that we are looking at all options,” said Miceli.

Cover placed over clarifier at Amherstburg water treatment plant



By Ron Giofu


The town’s water supply has one more layer of protection and the large crane that was at the site last Wednesday helped make that happen.

A new cover, which resembles a small dome, was placed over the clarifier at the Amherstburg Area Water Treatment Plant. Todd Hewitt, the town’s manager of engineering and operations, said the town is complying with a recommendation from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

A large crane gets ready to lift and place a cover onto the clarifier at the Amherstburg Area Water Treatment Plant Wednesday morning.

A large crane gets ready to lift and place a cover onto the clarifier at the Amherstburg Area Water Treatment Plant Wednesday morning.

“A few years ago, the MoE identified in one of their inspections that the clarifier should have a cover and shouldn’t be open to the elements,” said Hewitt.

The project was approved in the 2015 capital budget with the engineering request for proposals (RFP) being issued in late 2015. The total cost of the project will cost $415,000, Hewitt said.

While the cover was lifted into place Wednesday, there is still more work to be done including putting up side panels around the cover. The remaining work will still take a few more weeks to complete, added Hewitt, who stated it should be finished by the end of April at the latest.

The weight of the clarifier cover that was lifted into place Wednesday morning was approximately 15,000 lbs.

Dan Rawlins, operations manager of the Essex Hub of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), pointed out that the clarifier is a major part of the treatment process and that the cover will help with the overall performance of the water treatment plant.

The clarifier was prone to algae growth in the summer and freezing in the winter with the cover expected to reduce those types of things from happening. Hewitt noted that debris and dust could have previously found its way into the clarifier.

“Any contaminants we can keep out of it makes the process better,” he said. “You wouldn’t see a clarifier built without a cover now.”

The new 15,000-pound cover is placed on the clarifier at the Amherstburg Area Water Treatment Plant March 30.

The new 15,000-pound cover is placed on the clarifier at the Amherstburg Area Water Treatment Plant March 30.

The Amherstburg water treatment plant is roughly 45-years-old.

Rawlins explained that water that is brought in from the Detroit River is screened to remove the large particles before going to the clarifier. From there, the water is introduced to a chemical to help with the coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation in the clarifier.  The settled particles are pumped out and the water then gets chlorinated and filtered. From there, it’s stored in the reservoir and then used in the distribution system.

The cover on the clarifier will help with operational challenges due to the changing seasons and provide more protection and security to the treatment process,” said Rawlins.

“It’s a great way to protect the process,” added Hewitt, of the new cover.

Materials for the cover, which Hewitt stated is largely made of aluminum, were delivered to the site the previous Friday. It was built on site before being lifted onto the clarifier.