Council to start debate on pre-design of wastewater treatment plant upgrades

City council is set to debate a $365,000 contract for the plant modeling and pre-design of upgrades to Prince Albert’s wastewater treatment plant.

Administration has recommended awarding the contract to international engineering firm AECOM, which has an office in Saskatoon. The company has handled five recent city projects, including the design for the new raw water pump house construction project.

They were one of four firms to submit proposals by the March 18 deadline. In a report included in the Monday agenda package, Prince Albert’s public works director Wes Hicks that AECOM’s “record with the City has been excellent.”

Due to the complexity of the expansion and renovation, the company must provide a pre-design report before proceeding. That report will be due by Dec. 11, 2020, provided AECOM wins the contract. Details and drawings are to be completed by December 2021 at a cost of roughly $2.9 million.

The Prince Albert Waste Water Treatment Plant was originally built in 1972, with upgrades added in 1999 and 2009. Hicks wrote in his report that the plant is “badly in need of major renovations and upgrades” due to nine major deficiencies noted in a report from 2017.

In 2019, the plant required 37 major emergency repairs resulting in 11 “spills, process upsets outside permit limits or bypass discharges to the river.” Those repairs cost the city $788,546. It costs roughly $1.35 million to operate the plant annually.

Hicks wrote that both operations and maintenance costs are expected to increase as equipment continues to wear down and break.

Plant expansion and renovation costs aren’t yet known, but city administrators estimate it at more than $40 million. Barring any delays, construction will take about three years and start in 2022. Council will debate that number during budget deliberations next December.

Hicks wrote that failing to upgrade the plant would cost Prince Albert an average of $15,000 per week in repairs, and could lead to fines starting at $1 million per day for failing to meet environmental discharge regulations to the North Saskatchewan River.

Completing the design and modeling process will also allow the City to apply for future Federal Infrastructure Grants.

The wastewater treatment plant upgrades are one of five reports from administration and committees up for consideration at Monday’s regular council meeting.

Other items include a proposal to suspend collecting the Destination Marketing Levy from Prince Albert hotels this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a request for tax exemptions from a company constructing a new 30,240 square foot retail agricultural development on 15th Street East.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, four of Prince Albert’s eight city councillors will attend the meeting electronically. The City of Prince Albert has closed the meeting to the public in compliance with Saskatchewan’s 10-person ban on public gatherings. Media will be allowed to attend, but are restricted to observing the meeting from the City Hall foyer. As of Wednesday, April 1, the city planned to allow only three reporters in total to attend.

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