Senior levels of government want to help the Town of Ponoka upgrade its sewage lagoon but few contractors want to do the work.
At its July 14 meeting, council rejected the sole bid on the project. The $1.2 million tender from Gabriel Construction Ltd. came in 62 per cent over the $750,000 budget.
Instead, CAO Brad Watson recommended the town act as project managers and do the work piecemeal. It may take longer but the town will save money.
The work required includes the construction of a sewage wet well, building a new lift station, installing lift pumps, raising the concrete berms in cell 4, construction of sludge drying beds and the removal of sludge. The project could now take two years to complete.
Watson said the upgrades are necessary to keep pace with changing government regulations. The town will pay about one-third of the project cost; the remainder will come from provincial and federal grants.
Stan Baliant, director of property services, told council officials with the federal department of Oceans and Fisheries recently tested the quality of effluent from the lagoon, which is discharged into the Battle River every spring and fall.
“The quality of our water is very good,” he said, “but not as good as they’d like to see it.”
The discharged water meets Alberta Environment standards but federal standards are more strict, Baliant said. Oceans and Fisheries said there are bigger problems upstream with farmers and other municipalities.
“I’m confident the water we release from the lagoon is cleaner than what we receive,” said Coun. John Jacobs.
In an interview after the council meeting, Watson said time is not of the essence in completing the work. “The changes we are making, if we do them now, fine, if we do them next year, fine.”