Stratford sewage lagoon still discharging bad water into harbour

Nigel Armstrong
Published on February 10, 2016

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy shows off some of the town's new Blue Frog units at the sewage lagoon.

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

Town hires independent expert to look at why Blue Frog sewage units not able to meet waste water rules

The Town of Stratford's sewage lagoon continues to be a problem, council heard Wednesday.

It has hired an independent waste treatment expert to find out why the town's investment in a system known as the blue frogs is still not working.

Foul odours of rotting sewage from the lagoon are not wafting over the region now, as they had been this past summer. The current problem is government testing of water coming out of the lagoon system into the Charlottetown harbour, says Coun. Gary Clow, chairman of the town's infrastructure committee.

RELATED: Stratford sewage lagoon still stinks despite treatment system

"The waste water treatment facility continues to struggle with ammonia, (total suspended solids) and fecal effluent criteria required by the provincial and federal regulators," said Clow in reading his report to council.

The Charlottetown harbour shell fishery was closed down in June last year after water testing from the Stratford lagoon outflow failed to meet clean water guidelines.

The town spent $1.8 million two years ago to buy the blue frog system, what it said was a temporary move until an estimated $15 million could be found for a longer-term solution, like its own treatment plant.

The only other option would be piping Stratford waste over to Charlottetown's treatment plant, and negotiations are now underway to see if that is possible, said Clow.

Blue frog is the brand name for the system because of the bright blue colour of air bubbler units that float on top of the lagoon. Combined with curtains under the water, the overall system is supposed to mimic a full-size treatment plant.

The town has fully paid for its blue frog units, so there is no money to hold back for them failing to meet expectations said Clow.

The town and the company, however, are working co-operatively trying to find out what is wrong, he said.

"The system is working in other places, but there is just something wrong here, likely some small problem," he said.

The town recently paid to replace and upgrade ultraviolet light disinfection units in the system to see if that helps, said Clow.

Now the independent expert will weigh in with an assessment.

"With this review we can find out what can be done to keep the facility in compliance (with waste water regulations)," said Clow. "It's a great system, but there is just something happening there that is not 100 per cent.

"There is a fix, we just have to find it."

The blue frog company is co-operating because it needs endorsements for its product, he said.

"They sell all over the world and certainly right now if someone came and asked if we would recommended it, I would have to say it's questionable," said Clow. "They are not working the way they said it would. We are not happy."