By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County Council has approved an additional operating expenditure budget of up to $250,000 in order to move forward quickly with wastewater lagoon desludging in the hamlet of Shaughnessy.
Recently, wastewater lagoons within Lethbridge County underwent a third-party hydrological survey to determine the level of sludge accumulation. This survey revealed that in Shaughnessy, the main collection cells of the lagoon system are filled beyond their capacity, resulting in the system not functioning as intended. According to surveys results, Shaughnessy is the only area requiring attention at this time, but was identified as requiring immediate maintenance due to “significant sludge build-up” in the wastewater collection lagoons.
Director of public operations for Lethbridge County, Jeremy Wickson, noted during the July 6 County council meeting that it is crucial to complete this cleaning this year, and cautioned that any delay in the desludging work could potentially impact the timeline of the planned Shaughnessy waste water capital upgrades which have been green-lit for 2024. The 2024 upgrades will require up-to-date maintenance on many of the wastewater lines as work in and around sewage lagoons is completed.
Wickson’s report to council said the County could choose to fund the needed work either through the transferring of funds from the utility reserve, or alternatively by treating it as a 2023 operating expense, which would reduce the end-of-year surplus/transfer to reserves.
The cost to undergo hydrological surveys were budgeted in the 2023 operating budget for all hamlets in the County, as the internal assessment of wastewater lagoons was identified as a level of service requirement for ongoing hamlet operation.
Although administration was not able to provide an official quote for the desludging work at the time of the meeting, a rough estimate based on the Town of Picture Butte’s recent completion of desludging work, puts the estimated project cost between $200,000-250,000. Council opted to approve the project and authorize the transfer from the County’s utilities reserve
According to the hydrological assessment, the total volume of wet sludge that needs to be removed in the Shaughnessy lagoons amounts to 352 m3, and an addition 25 m3 in dry material.