Today was the official opening of the newly-constructed Owen Sound Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant upgrades, which have been underway since August of 2014, represent the single largest project undertaken in the city's history with a construction value in excess of $48 million. $18 million of that amount will be paid by the City out of wastewater fees, and the remainder was split between provincial and federal contributions.

Replacing the original 1960s primary treatment plant, the project allows for additional biological treatment, filtration and disinfectionwastewater-owensound of wastewater before it is discharged back into the environment in Owen Sound Bay.

"These upgrades enabled the City of Owen Sound to meet the Government of Canada's Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, while reducing the negative impacts of wastewater effluent on human health and the environment," according to a city release.

Matt Prentice, the city's manager of water and waste water, gave us a tour of the city owned and operated facility which can handle up to 80 million litres of wastewater a day.

After the solids are separated from the wastewater, a process now mercifully done by machine, bacteria growing on 23 truckloads of tiny styrofoam beads in outdoor tanks are used to "eat" the phosphorous, ammonia and suspended particles. Equipment like the blowers that provide air to the biological process, without which the system would stop completely, are built with excess capacity and back ups.

A staff of only six can operate the highly computerized plant, with over 700 alarms that can be responded to on an iPad, remotely if  necessary.

The plant is now also able to treat the leachate from the closed Genoe landfill - a process we previously had to contract out.

During the construction, adaptations were made to the design for efficiency and to meet unexpected challenges. While they scanned offshore before laying the diffusing outflow pipes, first one, then three scuttled schooners were discovered on the floor of the bay.

Other upgrades to bring the city's sewer system up to modern standards and capacity continue throughout the city.



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