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Cumberland plays catch-up with wastewater project

Coordinator expects work to be done on time despite COVID-19 delays
Cumberland is in the midst of a large project to upgrade its wastewater treatment lagoon. Image, Clear Facts — Wastewater Treatment & Environment video

The Village of Cumberland still expects to finish its multi-phase wastewater treatment upgrade on time, despite some delays.

At the most recent council meeting, liquid waste management planning project coordinator Paul Nash updated council members on recent schedule setbacks because of COVID-19.

“We are getting some movement,” he said at the outset of his presentation. “The project’s now fully funded and we’re ready to move forward.

The project is broken into the initial phase in which the Village will upgrade the actual lagoon, followed by a biochar remediation or “reed bed” component.

“It’s not a regulatory requirement,” Nash said. “It’s a case of going above and beyond.”

Finally, there will be a phase to complete watershed restoration.

“We want to get moving on the whole project,” he said, adding, “This has been a strange year for getting going on projects.”

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The initial plan was to provide some time between the first phase and the subsequent ones, though Nash indicated this is not likely now due to delays in starting the first phase. Getting the lagoon work done as soon as possible is still the biggest driver for the project, as his report notes the Village needs to achieve provincial regulatory compliance to avoid further warnings or fines. Financially though, the biggest factor is the deadline for the Green Municipal Fund in September 2022. The report indicates the Village should be able to complete the works within the next two years.

One of the changes for the project, and one which council questioned, was a switch from a design-build procurement model to a construction management approach. Nash explained this would include hiring a design engineer, construction manager and project manager. It is expected the Village will procure each phase as separate contracts but likely have the project manager and design engineer work throughout for coordination and integration purposes. He also said the construction management model is better for retrofit projects such as the lagoon upgrade.

For the $9.7-million project, most of the funds are coming from federal and provincial sources. Of the $2.2 million municipal portion, the money will be borrowed rather than coming from reserve funds. The final timeline for federal and provincial funding is March 2024, and Nash told council the Village should meet this.

“I’m still pretty confident we can get it all done,” he said.

In light of the delays related to the pandemic, Coun. Vickey Brown asked about contingencies for the project.

Nash responded they have factored in 20 per cent contingencies for all costs from the start of the process. The real challenge at this point is time.

“We’ve hardly spent any money to date,” he said. “The real issue is we just need to get going.”

While there has been no public engagement for the project this year, the Village expects to hold sessions once the project team is hired, likely in the first half of 2021. There are also plans to seek input for the wetlands restoration work following some environmental studies and other planning.

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