Cost of running Battery Point sewage treatment plant doubles

Chris Hayes
Cape Breton Post
Fri., Feb. 18, 2005

Sydney - The Cape Breton Regional Municipality now says it will cost $800,000 a year to run the new Battery Point sewage treatment plant ó almost twice as much as first estimated.

Utilities manager Mike MacKeigan says the original "very basic" estimates of $450,000 a year didnít include sewage from a new Byng Avenue sewer line, which will push volumes at the Battery Point plant to an average 3.2 million gallons a day.

Earlier cost estimates also didnít include stabilization of the biosolids, the sludge that will be left over and that canít be discharged into the harbour.

Councillors on a public services committee, heard in MacKeiganís briefing Thursday, the CBRM can raise the $800,000 in different ways, from a direct fee based on water consumption to area rating of properties that are connected to the plant.

The $10-million Battery Point plant is expected to be fully operation in May, doing what is called enhanced primary sewage treatment, which includes removing heavy grit, breaking down solids, adding chemicals to cause flocculation (forming into aggregates) and disinfecting using ultraviolet light.

MacKeigan cautioned that costs will soar higher if the CBRM is someday required to do higher levels of treatment. "We are going to see tighter and tighter regulations with respect to sewage discharge," he speculated. "What we will have to do is keep upping the ante in terms of our treatment process so there will be more costs."

He said the biosolids will go through a press to squeeze out the water content and stabilized by adding lime, resulting in about 320 to 350 tons a year. Biosolids can be used as a mix with compost if its chemical content meets certain standards, or used as landfill cover or disposed of by being buried if it doesnít. MacKeigan expected the biosolids to be indistinguishable from compost to the naked eye and nose. "There will be absolutely no smell from the material that is produced," he said.

Coun. Tom Wilson suggested the CBRM may have a sales job on its hands when it comes to disposing of the biosolids. "My concern is the public perception of what will be put where," he said. "I can see some opposition to it."