Work remains ongoing at the city's lagoon upgrade project. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.

Work continues on city lagoon project, as council approves additional funding

Construction work remains underway on the City’s Wastewater Lagoons project, as staff recently updated city council, which later directed recent provincial grant funding to further future phases.

Phase 1 of the Wastewater Lagoons project is ongoing, as vegetation around Cell 1 has been removed, and re-grading and raising the Cell 1 berm is in process and nearly complete. Additionally, the new control structures and bypass piping installation are almost half finished, according to staff.

Cell 1 has also been de-watered in order to allow for the rebuild of the lagoon cell, and sewage is being pumped around the work zone into Cell 2.

An essential piece of the project — the installation of a new trunk main which enters the lagoons from the intersection of Highway 3 and Victoria Ave — was substantially completed by the end of 2021.

In 2019, the city’s grant application cost estimate was $8.2 million, as the City was successful in securing $4.1 million from the federal government and $3.2 million from the provincial government, while the municipal portion came in at $822,066.

The scope of that work included replacing and upsizing the influent trunk main, replacing the pipeline and making upgrades at the lagoons, as well as reconstruction of the lagoon berms and armouring along Joseph Creek.

Following inflationary costs, the piping and berm upgrades were reformatted into two phases to ensure the Cell 1 work could get underway in the spring of 2022.

As the city looks to get Phase 2 of the project underway, staff is estimating an additional $7.8 million will be needed to finish the remaining piping upgrades and berm reconstruction and creek armouring.

According to the city, some of the specialty wastewater system material costs have increased by as much as 300 per cent, while construction costs have skyrocketed since the pre-COVID project planning and budgeting. Further costs are being incurred due to additional consultation to develop the required environmental monitoring plan.

To cover the shortfall, city council approved the $5.6 million allocation from the province’s Growing Communities Fund, as part of a $1 billion handed out to municipalities and regional districts across B.C. A further 1.1 million was approved from the city’s Sewer Capital Fund 2023 carryforward and 2024 funding.

“While the majority of these cost increases were due to conditions outside the City’s control, recent changes to our project management systems, including professional grant writing services, higher contingency plans, and proactive pre-design investments, will allow us to better adapt to any future uncertainty,” said Mike Matejka, Director of Engineering and Development Services.

“Phase 2 of this project will complete the necessary work to ensure the sewer lagoons meet the needs of the growing community well into the future.”

De-sludging of Cell 2 and Cell 3 will be deferred to the future, which will be necessary within three to five years, in order to allow for the buildup of adequate funding. That work is estimated at $4,5 million.

The City has also recently received a $2.9 million grant that will be dedicated to additional treatment upgrades at the lagoons required to continue meeting the city’s operating permit.

Staff also notes that increases to capital and operational funding investments will likely be needed to support growth, replace rapidly aging infrastructure and maintain the systems operating amid strict compliance requirements.