A $90.4 million upgrade at Greater Moncton’s wastewater treatment centre has been delayed.
TransAqua says they haven’t been able to secure funding from the province and federal government to move ahead with the project.
“We have not received the federal letter of support that is required to allow us to move forward,” said TransAqua’s general manager, Kevin Rice.
The company was planning to start the upgrade to its facility this spring. Rice says the upgrade will cut back the amount of solids flowing into the Petitcodiac River by 112 tons a day.
Endangered salmon suffering
“The water that we are putting in deprives the fish of oxygen. So with secondary treatment we will be putting in water that contains more oxygen to help the fish breathe,” Rice said.
Christine McLauchlan with the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance says the project needs to move ahead for the health of the river and the future of the Atlantic salmon.
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“Water quality is a huge issue especially recently the Petitcodiac River has recently been designated as critical habitat for the endangered Atlantic salmon, so we would like to see that taken care of as soon as possible,” McLauchlan said.
But without a solid commitment from the federal government, Rice says the company can’t secure any provincial funding either. He says they are not able to secure pricing on new equipment nor issue construction tenders that could employ hundreds of New Brunswickers.
TransAqua facing four year deadline
Rice says the upgrade is mandatory to meet stricter standards set out by the Department of Environment.
TransAqua has until 2020 to make the upgrades, so Rice says the project will go ahead even without federal and provincial support, but it’s the tax payers who will ultimately pay.
If TransAqua is not able to secure that federal and provincial funding, the average person will see an increase in their water bills. The sewage treatment portion of their bill will go up by 63 per cent, about $133 a year by 2030.
But McLauchlan says it’s the habitat of the river and the Atlantic salmon that pays the ultimate price for any delays in the project.
“Bacterial, vehicle fluids, fertilizers, pesticides all of the downtown core is combined sewer so all of that water coming off of roads and lawns and everything goes straight to the treatment facility, but because they are not upgraded they are not able to treat those things so those are going into the river also,” McLauchlan said.