By Nancy Kelly
Berwick officials are working their way through some challenges with the town’s recently-upgraded waste-water treatment facility.
CAO Don Reagan explained there are two separate issues that have been plaguing the facility. The first is equipment-related.
“The two compressors that run the ozone injection system broke down due to a manufacturing flaw,” he said.
The ozone injection system, the first of its kind installed in Nova Scotia, is designed to destroy organic compounds and suspended solids before water is pumped into the Cornwallis River.
“Up until the breakdown, the system was working great,” added Reagan.
The system is still under warranty and one of the two compressors has been repaired, with the second expected to be up and running within a week. Public works staff also recommended that a third compressor be installed as a back-up system.
The repair costs will be covered by the company that built and installed the faulty equipment, but the town will be spending additional funds for the purchase of a third compressor. Reagan believes it will be money well spent if it prevents future maintenance issues.
The second problem is one that Berwick has dealt with before - and has no interest in revisiting.
“The quality of discharge from Eden Valley is causing issues with our system and some councillors have fielded some calls from residents complaining of unpleasant smells coming from the waste-water treatment plant,” Reagan said.
Close to a decade ago, effluent from the then-Larsen plant overwhelmed the sewer treatment system, causing bad odours throughout the northeast quadrant of town. Expensive upgrades were made to the system at the time to ensure there would be no repeat of the problem, which had area residents threatening to withhold their property taxes because the smells were at times so overpowering they prevented them from enjoying their homes.
In July 2011, John Prall, Berwick’s mayor at the time, characterized the previous problem at the sewer treatment plant as the “most challenging issue” of his time in office.
When Eden Valley purchased the former Larsen facility that same year, Berwick partnered with the provincial and federal governments and Eden Valley to upgrade the facility again, this time to the tune of $2 million. The project was pursued to improve efficiency at the treatment facility and to avoid any repeat of the Larsen incident.
Reagan, who confirmed Eden Valley has acknowledged there is a problem at their end, has been consulting with sewer treatment industry experts to pinpoint the reason for the occasional unpleasant smells, which he believes are associated with the high nitrogen content of Eden Valley’s effluent.
Hoping for more direction after a site visit scheduled for March 6, Reagan reassured Berwick residents that “we are on top of this. It is a priority for us.”