WWTP Receives Provincial Grant Funding
By Lori Larsen
as seen in the Camrose Booster, July 7, 2020
The City of Camrose Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) project recently received a $10.2 million grant from the Province of Alberta.
Making the announcement on July 3 at the WWTP lagoon site, on behalf of the province, was Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely. “I’m honoured to announce a $10 million grant to the Camrose Waste Water Treatment Upgrade. These important treatment upgrades will ensure we meet regulations, allowing our city to have the infrastructure it needs to grow sustainably.
“The Alberta Government has allocated $137 million to the Alberta/Municipal/Wastewater Partnership for 54 projects across this great province, including this one today. Alberta is facing one of the most challenging times in our history and this funding is part of Alberta’s economic recovery plan to get Albertans back to work and that’s why I’m pleased to announce this project. It will create 144 jobs in Camrose Constituency.”
City of Camrose engineering manager Jeremy Enarson explained the ongoing process for the WWTP project.
“Currently, the WWTP project is still in the detail design stage. We hope to finish the detail design part of the project by the end of August/early fall, but we are likely not tendering the project until around Christmas, near the end of the year.”
Enarson explained that for larger projects such as the WWTP project, waiting to tender until the end of the year allows for the most competitive pricing by bidders.
“Then construction would be happening 2020 to 2023, roughly two to two and-a-half years for the overall construction.”
The WWTP project will cost approximately $43 million which is what the City has budgeted for and, according to Enarson, is still on track.
Financing the project
Financing projects this large with as little burden to taxpayers as possible is not an easy task, and has required the City to tap into as many resources as possible.
“We had been in discussion with the province for a number of years already,” said Enarson. with regards to grant monies available through the provincial Alberta Municipal Waste Water Partnership (AMWWP). “It is not guaranteed funding, but a Waste Water Treatment Plant project, such as the one Camrose is currently in the process of, is specifically what the AMWWP grant is geared towards.”
The WWTP project met all the criteria for the AMWWP when initial discussions took place, however, the approved funding from the government was not announced until this week. The City has also applied for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan (ICIP) federal/provincial grant.
“We are still waiting for word on that grant,” said Enarson. “It is significantly more dollars, potentially, so we are hoping to get that one.”
In the meantime, receiving the $10.2 million AMWWP grant from the province will go a long way as leverage in the application for the federal grant.
“The City has been building up our reserves as well, but we would still be looking at taking out a fairly large loan for the balance of the project. So if we can leverage the provincial funds to try to get the federal funds, then we might be able to do this project without borrowing any money at all.” He did note, however, that the application process for the ICIP grant has no guarantee.
“The City is very thankful for the $10.2 million of funding received from the provincial government. It is in line with what we requested, so it is also in line with the City budget.”
The ICIP grant requires a contribution by the federal and provincial governments and a certain amount of that the City is responsible to come up with whether that is through loans, current spending, reserves or all of the above.
“If we are unsuccessful with the federal grant, at least we have the commitment from the province now, so we can proceed with the project and have a loan, but much less (approximately $10 million) than if we had not received the provincial funding.
“The amount of money we are putting away in reserves every year is already more than what our annual payments would be on the loan. So even if we didn’t get any additional funding, the City would not have to increase the sanitary utility rates to pay off that loan.”
The $43 million project may not have the same visible impact on residents as other major City projects, such as the 48 Avenue Bridge replacement or the Aquatic Centre upgrade, however, Enarson explained the two main reasons the upgrades must be completed.
“The upgrades to the WWTP will ensure a higher level of treatment. Right now, we do not treat for ammonia and phosphorus. This project will allow us to start treating for the removal of ammonia and phosphorus from our waste water which will have an ultimate benefit for the downstream environment.
“The other aspect of this is we have basically reached the capacity of our existing facility, about a 20,000 population. The project we are doing right now is being designed to allow for a 30,000 population, so it is allowing for the growth of the community.”
Present for the announcement on July 3 were Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely and assistant Wendy Pasiuk, City of Camrose Councillors Max Lindstrand and Wayne Throndson, City of Camrose engineering manager Jeremy Enarson, utility manager Lawrence Allen, and engineering Co-op student Mackenzie Pleau, Battle River Watershed Alliance planning coordinator Sarah Skinner and Deputy Mayor Agnes Hoveland.
“This investment in Camrose could not have happened at a better time,” said Deputy Mayor Hoveland. “Due to changing environmental regulations, we are faced with a $43 million Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade that is an absolute requirement. This $10.2 million investment by the Province of Alberta will go a long way toward funding this essential project. The City of Camrose is hoping to leverage these funds in order to secure further funding from the Federal government.
“We truly appreciate the Province’s investment in our infrastructure assisting in ensuring the continued delivery of this essential service. Thank you.”