After two months of squabbling over the deadline, the city and province have come to an agreement over the timeline for upgrades to Winnipeg’s North End sewage plant, with the aim of curbing the flow of phosphorus from city sewers into Lake Winnipeg.
Winnipeg is facing $1.8 billion in costs for upgrades to the North End Winnipeg Pollution Control Centre.
Excessive phosphorus in the lake’s waters are a contributing factor to algae blooms.
Late last year, the province denied the city’s request for a two-year extension for interim environmental upgrades to the plant.
At the time, Mayor Brian Bowman warned of risks to Winnipeg’s sewage treatment system and possible environmental damage to Manitoba’s waterways if the phosphorus reduction measures were pushed forward without further study.
Instead, Manitoba’s Conservation and Climate Ministry mandated the city take part in an advisory group with the province, the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, the International Institute of Sustainable Development, Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective and the South Basin Mayors and Reeves to develop an interim phosphorus reduction plan by Feb. 1 to bring the sewage plant up to environmental code.
The city and the province released a joint plan Friday — a day before the deadline.
The advisory group has agreed on the scope of work for the coming year, including testing for interim phosphorus removal meant to determine how much phosphorus can be removed from Winnipeg’s wastewater, the province said in a news release.
The upgrades required include improvements to the headworks and power source at the plant and a new facility to process biosolids from the city’s three sewage plants.
The advisory group’s report includes an overview of all three phases of the city’s plan for the sewage plant project including cost estimates and a preliminary construction time frame, the province said.
An update on the project’s timeline is due at the end of July.
The city awarded the contract for interim phosphorous removal testing to engineering firm AECOM. The testing will take until the end of the year. AECOM’s final report is due Dec. 31. The advisory group will issue public reports on the project’s progress monthly.
Bowman has repeatedly requested the provincial and federal governments ink formal funding deals for the infrastructure project. No funding has been announced.