Council approves water and wastewater budgets

Special projects budget set aside for studies that plan for future growth

By Kirk Winter

Two more important pieces of the overall Kawartha Lakes 2022 budget were approved by council at their recent meeting – a $34 million water and wastewater budget and the $1.8 million special project budget.

Water/wastewater budget

The water/waste water budget is responsible for the operation and improvement of public water and sewage treatment facilities across Kawartha Lakes.

Director of public works Bryan Robinson told council that the goal of the water/waste water budget is to “ensure that drinking water is safe and to prevent health hazards associated with drinking water like happened in Walkerton in 2002.”

The city is currently responsible for 21 water systems, six waste water systems and 36 community wells. The city directly manages three of the water systems while the other 18 are contracted out.

Robinson described the water infrastructure in Kawartha Lakes, as “a complex series of systems spread across a large area.”

Robinson shared with council that as part of the upcoming budget request, improvements are to be made to the water delivery systems in Manilla and Sonya, and the city will be taking responsibility for these systems in 2022.

Director of engineering Juan Rojas spoke about water/wastewater capital projects for 2022 that include eight different water treatment upgrades costing more than $3 million featuring a $2.7 million upgrade in Lindsay. Rojas also detailed five different wastewater treatment upgrades worth more than $1 million, with work on the sewage lagoons in Coboconk taking the lion’s share of that budget

Rojas said the three major projects worth more than $4 million are needed to strengthen the water distribution and wastewater collection systems in Lindsay and Fenelon Falls.

The operating budget for the water/wastewater service for 2022 is $24 million, while the water/wastewater capital budget asked for about $10 million to complete all the projects Rojas and Robinson listed.

Councillor Pat Dunn wanted to know with all the development going on if the city “was staying ahead of the game and had capacity to cope.”

“Capacity exists within our urban boundaries,” Rojas replied.

Councillor Ron Ashmore requested an update on the half million dollar water/wastewater upgrade approved for Omemee.

“We have met with the ministry (of the environment) regarding Omemee,” Rojas said. “We hope to be done talking about Omemee by the end of December and we think likely work will begin in 2023.”

Councillor Emmett Yeo asked if the work on the sewage lagoons in Coboconk would do anything about the odour currently associated with the facility.

“Lagoons are smelly paces,” Rojas said. “We believe the work will alleviate some of the issue.”

Councillor Doug Elmslie asked if this budget was approved, what increase would the average Kawartha Lakes water/wastewater users see in their bills?

Director of corporate service Jennifer Stover estimated an average user would see a $45 a year increase in their water and sewer bill.

Council passed the water/wastewater budget unanimously.

Special projects budget 

This budget area of council reflects spending that is primarily allocated to studies and plans for future city decision making and growth.

For 2022, $1.7 million was requested for studies and $600,000 for new technologies.

Councillor Tracy Richardson asked why the city, with so many good people on staff, doesn’t do these studies in house rather than outsourcing them to costly private firms.

“Third party experts are preferred by the province for large scale endeavours like master plans,” CAO Ron Taylor said.

Council passed the special projects budget unanimously.

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