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City of Port Alberni to begin decommissioning of old sewage lagoon

Sludge removal will start this summer
Tugboats float the outfall for the City of Port Alberni’s wastewater treatment plant out into Alberni Harbour. (CITY OF PORT ALBERNI PHOTO)

With a new wastewater treatment plant up and running, the City of Port Alberni will now have to decommission its old sewage lagoon.

City council agreed during a meeting on Aug. 8, 2022 to award a contract for sludge removal from the old lagoon to American Process Group (Canada) Ltd. for a cost of up to CDN$450,000.

The funding for the project was budgeted in the 2022 financial plan, but the city only received one bid for the work at a cost of $1,019,148.

Director of engineering Rob Dickinson recommended awarding a portion of the contract for the work to American Process Group, then negotiating the second part of the project with the same company.

He explained that desludging works in two phases. The first phase scrapes the drier materials off the top of the sludge and hauls it to the Alberni Valley Landfill. This is generally less expensive than the second phase of the project, which involves dewatering using a centrifuge.

The completion of the new wastewater treatment plant was delayed this year by poor weather, so the desludging will not be finished by the end of the year. Instead, it will have to take place over two dry seasons (2022 and 2023).

Council agreed to proceed with the first portion of the work for the budgeted $450,000, then renegotiate the second half.

Dickinson explained that the old sewage lagoon is no longer aerated, so the smell from the ponds will be worse if they are not desludged.

“As this sits there and we’re not aerating it, the odour this summer and next summer will be a lot worse than it has in the past,” he said.

Council expressed disappointment that the award would not be going to a local contractor, but agreed that the work has to take place soon.

”Anyone who has recently been down to the Victoria Quay area will have noticed the smell, and it is worse than I’ve ever smelled it,” said Mayor Sharie Minions. “I’m looking forward to getting rid of that and the sooner we can do that the better.”

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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