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Design phase about to start for Hamilton biosolids facility

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by Dena Fehir

Design is about to start on a $106-million addition to a Hamilton, Ont. biosolids facility, a project that represents a significant enhancement of the city’s wastewater treatment capabilities.
Design phase about to start for Hamilton biosolids facility

This is just one component of $340 million in upgrades at the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project is one of several related phases that fall within the City of Hamilton's Clean Water Program that will unfold over the course of multiple years.

The agreement was signed in late March with Harbour City Solutions for the facility, whose technology is projected to help significantly reduce the number of transport trucks required to remove biosolids from the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new technology involves heating the biosolids in a large dryer drum and selling the resulting dried product. The product will then be sold to the agricultural community as a slow release organic fertilizer, or to coal burning industrial facilities as a renewable fuel replacement.

"This will be one of the first and largest municipal water and wastewater public-private partnerships in Ontario and adds to the city's innovative profile as a leader in municipal biosolids management and resource recovery," said City of Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

Ultimately, once in operation, it is expected to significantly improve odour and noise impacts on the Parkview East neighbourhood next to the QEW.

"Construction is expected to commence this summer and reach substantial completion by April 30, 2020, which will then move into the operations and maintenance phase in May 2020 to May 2050," said Dan McKinnon, general manager of public works for the City of Hamilton.

Harbour City Solutions, the selected proponent for the project, is a consortium of companies that includes Bird Construction, Maple Reinders and Synagro. Collectively, they will design, finance and oversee construction of the facility as well as operate and maintain it over 30 years upon completion.

The public-private partnership is also supported through funding from PPP Canada.

In breaking down the numbers, McKinnon said, "At substantial completion, a 50 per cent capital payment will be made, which is approximately $26 million, split equally between the city and PPP Canada. The remaining 50 per cent capital repayment and operations/maintenance payments will be made monthly over the 30-year term."

He also said on average, Harbour City Solutions will manage 25 to 30 workers on site during construction. Additional crews and trucks will also be sporadically on site for other projects happening at the plant during the same period, such as the replacement of the main sewage pumping station.

The City of Hamilton produces about 38,500 tonnes of biosolids per year. When the sewage is treated in a wastewater treatment plant, they become nutrient-rich organic materials that can be used as fertilizer to maintain or improve soil conditions and promote plant growth. Currently, biosolids coming from Hamilton's wastewater treatment plants are used in agricultural fields for restoration of mines or sent to landfills.

"At the onset of this project, we were challenged with the objective of developing a sustainable biosolids management program that meets our community's social, environmental and economic needs and I can say with confidence that we achieved our objective," said McKinnon.

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