It was standing room only at the Bloomfield Town Hall on the rainy evening of August 17.
The County’s engineers and consultants presented a range preferred solutions in a comprehensive regional water treatment plan. Councillors and County staff were out in force to answer questions. If there was one common complaint though, it was that most people find the poster presentations so hard to follow, they can’t even arrive at the questions.
The County’s Regional Water Supply Master Plan assesses “preferred water servicing strategies to support the long-term water needs of the serviced areas in the County in a sustainable and financially responsible manner.”
In short, the process identifies economies, and tries to avoid duplication, by looking for ways to consolidate services into fewer treatment plants. It looks at the County as a whole.
In the words on the white cards lining the town hall, the County’s intersecting plans “offer an opportunity to maximize synergies in the identification of long-term infrastructure needs.”
There are 6500 households serviced by County waterworks. Not very many to support four independent water treatment systems. A couple of these are tiny: Ameliasburgh, which draws from Roblin Lake, serves 260 people. Peat’s Point, which treats water drawn from a groundwater well, serves 63.
By way of contrast, Picton/Bloomfield, which draws from Picton Bay; and Wellington, which draws from Lake Ontario, together serve just over 8,000 people.
There are just two real options on the table for the Picton/Bloomfield water treatment plant, which does not have the capacity to meet projected demand. Its antiquated 1928 infrastructure is in fact holding back development. Houses cannot be built in Picton or Bloomfield without the water required to service them.
There are in addition major concerns about Picton Bay as a good long term water source. Water drawn from the Bay already requires complex chemical treatment to be drinkable. The existing system’s deteriorated pipes present ongoing maintenance costs. Finally, the plant will have to be completely replaced by 2042.
The two solutions currently being explored: build a new WTP, which would cost an estimated $85 million. Or build a 20km pipe to bring water from the new Wellington WTP through Bloomfield and Picton. This plan is estimated to cost about $74 million. That’s in addition to the cost for the new Wellington WTP, which would become a regional WTP.
The latter plan also has the advantage of long-term operation and maintenance cost savings, as there is just one water treatment plant in this scenario rather than two.
As for some smaller pain points: the most novel idea was to move the 20 or so households at Peat’s Point, currently serviced by an independent waterworks plant, onto individual septic and well service.
The plan would cost about $1.5 million and would mean decommissioning an entire waterworks plant, entailing big savings in maintenance and infrastructure costs.
CAO Marcia Wallace cautioned however, that the plan was unlikely to be approved by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. “The Ministry does not generally approve a plan that entails a downgrading of current service levels. That would be unusual.”
For that reason, the County is also exploring running a trunk line to connect the tiny community to the waterworks at Rossmore, the next closest station. Rossmore/Fenwood Gardens receives water from the Bay of Quinte supplied by Belleville. That plan is estimated to cost $2.9 million.
By late fall, the County will present its preferred choices for feedback.
An additional Public Information Centre will be held on August 31, 2023 from 6-8pm at the Wellington and District Community Centre to answer questions about the Wellington Master Servicing Plan; Development Charges and Front-End Financing Agreements; Water & Wastewater User Rates; and its Development and Growth Projections.