“I want to make clear we have a serious issue,” said Mayor Normand Riopel, “and it would be sad to have the whole township fork out for the bill.”
The mayor and council reviewed the contents of a report from the Ontario Clean Water Association (OCWA) during their Wednesday committee of the whole session. The OCWA is the agency responsible for monitoring and inspecting municipal water and wastewater systems.
The report, which Mayor Riopel said is “confidential”, states that the Vankleek Hill wastewater treatment plant is still dealing with occasional heavy discharges of untreated water into its system. The discharges are related to the operation of a local business, which was not identified during the open council session and the mayor declined to name the business during question period. He and township administration noted that the business involved has been working with the municipality to help resolve the dilemma.
The mayor indicated that the heavy discharge situation has been an ongoing concern since 2017 and was the reason behind the success in getting federal and provincial financial aid for a recent $9.2 million upgrade to the township wastewater lagoon setup.
Public Works Director James McMahon told council that the wastewater treatment plant was designed and built to handle temporary over-capacity situations when necessary. Mayor Riopel expressed concern that the province could levy fines against the township if the heavy discharge situation is not corrected.