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Water and Wastewater Capacity

The Town of The Blue Mountains provides water and wastewater services to connected residents through municipal infrastructure. Capacity is carefully monitored to ensure systems are running efficiently and able to safely process and transport water and wastewater. 

Water and wastewater capacity is the amount of water and wastewater that a treatment system can safely process and transport. Ensuring treatment capacity is important as new construction and development relies on available capacity to connect to the system and receive proper service from Town infrastructure. Without available capacity, new development would not be able to connect to municipal infrastructure.

Currently, the Town operates one water treatment plant, located at the north end of Peel Street in Thornbury. This plant provides water for all connected units in the Municipality. In addition, the Town operates five water storage reservoirs: the water tower on Victoria Street, the Thornbury Reservoir on Grey Street, an inground reservoir on Camperdown, a reservoir on Happy Valley Road and a Standing Pipe Storage Reservoir in Swiss Meadows. In addition, to supplement water supply, the Town also receives water from the Town of Collingwood.

The Town also operates two wastewater treatment plants, one in Thornbury and one in Craigleith. In addition to the two wastewater treatment plants, there are a total of 12 sewage pumping stations located throughout the Town to assist with moving the sewage to the treatment plants.

The Town monitors the flows of water taking (drinking water) and the flows into the wastewater treatment plants very carefully. Currently, there is no risk of exceeding capacity. However, the Town and the South Georgian Bay region is experiencing significant growth within recent years, accelerating the need for increased capacity in the Town’s water system. The Town is aware of potential capacity issues that may arise in the future and is proactively working to address the issues.  

With permission from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP), the Town monitors the number of connected and committed units to properly manage capacity. Currently, the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant (T-WWTP) services 2,687 units and as of September, 2021, has available built capacity for an additional 473 units. The plant recently surpassed the 80% threshold that municipalities use to trigger expansion of plants.

As treatment plants run optimally when proportionally sized to the area they serve, the Town has planned the upgrades to coincide with the growth of the community. Based on the 3-year average of 101 new connections per year, it is unlikely all the units able to connect to the system will be connected before the expansion project is completed. However, the need to increase the built capacity is immediate. The Town has already received approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for Phase 1A of the T-WWTP expansion as well as the 90% design to accelerate the process. Town staff estimate that the expansion project will be complete and commissioned by 2024. 

The Craigleith Wastewater Treatment Plant (C-WWTP) is currently operating at 42% capacity. The total capacity available is sufficient for all Stage 1a (connected), Stage 1b (can connect), Stage 1c (existing but not fronting), Stage 2 (Reserved Capacity (Draft Plan Approvals)) and Stage 3 (Official Plan Designated Lands with Application) units in Craigleith.

The Town’s Water Treatment Plant and the Collingwood supply currently provides water to nearly 9,000 homes within the Town, with the capability of providing water for an additional 6,400 homes. The Town faces challenges in moving water to the Craigleith area due to pinch points that have been identified along the transmission route. Work has begun to identify options and solutions to eliminate the pinch points (e.g. pumping station and watermain improvements).

More information on Water and Wastewater Capacity can be found in the 2020 Capacity Assessment Report. Additional information on different servicing stage categories can be found within the Servicing Future Development Staff Report.

The Town is in a period of increased development in the Thornbury service area with a 3-year average of 101 new connections, over the 5-year average of 89 new connections per year. Through August 2021, there have been 114 new connections to the system. The Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Treatment Plant (T-WWTP) has an available built capacity of 473 units that would be exhausted in the coming years if no action is taken. The Town is also aware of inflow and infiltration issues that are further reducing the available capacity of the T-WWTP. These high inflow and infiltration levels have a negative impact on the system by:

  • Adding unnecessary volume and treatment costs for the Town;
  • Increasing the total volume assigned to connected units; and;
  • Increasing the average historical flow per connection and limiting reserve capacity based on Provincial D-5-1 guidelines.

Inflow and infiltration is the groundwater and stormwater that enters the sewer system which reduces the treatment capacity for actual sewage. Inflow and infiltration can come from a variety of sources including foundation drains, sump pump connections, roof leaders, other illegal connections, and leaky pipes. Reducing inflow and infiltration will not only lower the cost of treatment at the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant, but it will also increase capacity for new connections.

Aging infrastructure in Thornbury has been identified as a source of inflow and infiltration which will be addressed by ongoing municipal infrastructure projects such as the Thornbury West Reconstruction.. Testing and video inspections are also being completed throughout the Town to evaluate the sanitary collection system. This work identifies areas where the sewers are failing or require repair. Reducing inflow and infiltration is critical to optimizing the capacity of the Town's wastewater treatment plants which will in turn increase treatment capacity over time.

The Town is continuing to strategically plan infrastructure projects to align with planned and designated development. Proactive infrastructure planning such as the early approval of the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase 1A expansion will continue. The Town will also monitor and manage new connections to the T-WWTP to ensure the remaining built capacity keeps pace with development until the expansion is commissioned. Town staff from several departments, including Planning & Development Services, Operations and Legal Services have been working collaboratively to assess  the Town's options to best monitor and manage infrastructure capacity needs, most notably connections to the T-WWTP.

Town staff have recommended the following 16 action points: 

  1. Infrastructure Capacity Team: Town Staff will strike an Infrastructure Capacity Team comprised of staff from the Planning & Development, Operations and the Legal department who will continually review and monitor the rate of new connections.
  2. Development Servicing Report Cards: Report cards will be provided to Council on a regular basis showing available capacity at the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Craigleith Wastewater Treatment Plant,  and overall town capacity. 
  3. Update Watewater Treatment Plan Flow Assumptions: Town Staff will work with Grey County and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to explore whether a different sewage flow per new connection should be used when estimating for a new development.
  4. Accelerate Completion of the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase 1A & 1B Expansions
  5. Address Inflow and Infiltration: Operations staff will begin addressing inflow and infiltration flows to the Thornbury Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Craigleith Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  6. Continue Discussions with Collingwood: Staff will continue discussions with the Town of Collingwood to review what water sharing options and opportunities exist and are mutually beneficial.
  7. Implement Water Conservation Measures: Further water conservation measures such as reduced lawn watering or drought resistant grass varieties and enhanced by-law enforcement could increase the available water and wastewater treatment capacity.
  8. Development Conditions: Working with Grey County, conditions of development related to servicing will be implemented to ensure capacity is available prior to final approval and allocation is outlined in all development agreements.
  9. Engage with Industry Representatives: Town Staff will meet with the development industry to provide updates and gather input on potential solutions.
  10. Address Pinch Points: Town staff will continue to pursue solutions to address pinch points in the Town's water distribution system.
  11. Review Service Extension Capital Projects: The Town will review current and planned projects to extend municipal services in the T-WWTP area to ensure sufficient treatment plant capacity exists.
  12. Extend Timeframe of Agreement with Camperdown Developer's Group: Several years ago, a group of developers had originally installed municipal services in the Camperdown Area. An agreement with the Town acknowledged that the Town would pursue its best efforts to extend services to other areas in Camperdown. The Town will further review the terms of this agreement and determine if an extension to the agreement should be negotiated.
  13. Continue the  Water Treatment Plant Capacity Assessment Study: This study was recently initiated to confirm the rated capacity of the plant (e.g. compare achievable maximum daily capacity to the rated capacity). This study is expected to be completed by October 2021 and will  help inform Town staff and assist in future decision-making.
  14. East Side Water Supply & Storage Class EA: This Environmental Assessment was recently initiated to inform best actions or alternatives to match treatment capacity and supply with project growth. It will assist in modelling and predicting water supply and distribution opportunities and needs.
  15. Regional Collaboration: Working with municipal partners in the South Georgian Bay Region could benefit the Town regarding long term infrastructure servicing needs. 
  16. Mayor's Task Force: A collaborative effort between Town Staff and the private sector alongside the Mayor to ensure the proper matters gain the attention and priority they deserve.

Water capacity is assessed based on peak day use. If the Town can reduce the peak day volume, it will also delay the need for additional treatment. The Town encourages residents to collect rainwater for lawn watering purposes, as well as planting  drought resistant grass varieties which will assist with reducing the reoccurring need to water lawns.