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Community recommends solution to wastewater sludge disposal

Updated — Jan. 18 8:31 a.m.
A city staff report to be presented to Greater Sudbury Policy Committee Jan. 26, recommends an alternative procurement model for the biosolids management project that has been underway since 2007. File photo.

Updated — Jan. 18 8:31 a.m. 

After considering more than 40 different technologies, city staff will recommend the most affordable option to deal with sludge from the wastewater treatment is to build a biosolid treatment plant at the Sudbury Wastewater Treatment Plan on Kelly Lake Road. The Greater Sudbury Policy Committee will hear details about the project on Jan. 19.

For the past 30 years, the city has been using the Vale tailing ponds in the Lively area as a disposal site for waste activated sludge. The city is required to find an alternate solution to its wastewater sludge disposal by the end of 2012.

A report prepared by city staff for the Policy Committee stated “the best value for money is achieved under a design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) procurement model.”

Doug Nadorozny, chief administrative officer with the City of Greater Sudbury, said the city will go out and bundle all the DBFOM components into the request for proposal process. Companies from the private sector will submit proposals including a price and conditions on being able to operate the facility for 20 years.

“Whichever one we accept at the end of the 20 year period of time the responsibility will flip back to the municipality,” he said. “The building would always be ours, so we're never selling or leasing the building. We're basically giving someone a license to provide with our facility for 20 years.”

Nadoronzy said staff are recommending the DBFOM model for a number of reasons.

“This is new technology for us,” he said. “It's something we're not familiar with, we've never run a biosolid plant. We're also on a tight time-line. We want to be assured that this project gets finished on time, on budget and that the sludge is being treated properly within the commitments we've made to Vale to stop dumping the sludge.”

Nadoronzy said the project is estimated to cost between $30 to $40 million to build.

“We expect the operating costs in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million to run the plant,” he said. “Some of those costs will be offset by the fact we're not hauling all the sludge since the majority of the sludge is generated by the property where this plant is going to be built. We'll save a fair amount in trucking costs that will offset some of those operating costs.”

City council will make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposed model at the next council meeting on Jan. 26.

Original Story:

A city staff report to be presented to Greater Sudbury Policy Committee Jan. 19, recommends an alternative procurement model for the biosolids management project that has been underway since 2007.

The City has been using tailings ponds in the Lively area for 30 years as a disposal site for waste activated sludge, a normal by-product of the wastewater treatment process. The city is required to find an alternate solution to its wastewater sludge disposal methods by the end of 2012. As well, recurrent episodes of foul odour originating from the disposal site have contributed to the importance of developing new practices to manage the disposal of waste activated sludge and protect the quality of life of area residents. As a result, it has been determined that a biosolids treatment facility is required.

The City of Greater Sudbury considered more than 40 different technologies through a number of processes, including a master plan and environmental assessment. It has been determined that the most affordable option is to build a biosolids treatment plan at the Sudbury Wastewater Treatment Plant on Kelly Lake Road to process sewage sludge. It is anticipated that the project will cost about $30 to $40 million. A financial overview will be presented to council next week, and detailed options, including potential funding partners, will be presented to council in the coming months.

Based on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment, city staff are recommending that the biosolids management project proceed under a Design, Build, Operate, Maintain and Finance (DBOMF) procurement model.

“Following previous council discussions and decisions, our technical working group undertook a rigorous analysis of various procurement models,” Doug Nadorozny, chief administrative officer, said. “Staff is recommending the DBOMF procurement model as we believe that this is the best approach to deliver a high quality product, on time and on budget, with the greatest cost-benefit to the community.”

In all construction-based projects, there are elements of risk to be considered, including design, construction and operational risks. In the specific case of the biosolids treatment facility, there are risks that must be mitigated. Those risks include the risk that the project may not be completed on time. The resulting consequence to haul sludge to another facility while the facility is being completed would result in a significant expenditure. ?

While a number of alternative project procurement methods are available to the city, a DBOMF model offers the highest cost benefit to the community. Under this model, the private sector accepts more of the risk and is responsible for meeting the standards established by the city through the procurement process.

A full presentation will be made to council at this week’s policy committee meeting for council’s review. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers on Jan. 19. All are welcome to attend.