After deciding last week to put off until fall a planned upgrade project at the town lagoon, Alberton town council has accepted a plan that will permit the work to go ahead immediately, and without discharging the contents of the lagoon’s second cell into Alberton Creek.
It was that planned two-week emptying period that drew residents of the neighbouring, downstream community of Northport to a public meeting last week.
The day after that meeting, in response to concerns of large volumes of partially treated wastewater entering the creek at a time of year when the stream normally sees fishing and recreational activity, council decided to delay the work until fall.
Then came Plan B.
Mayor David Gordon said Monday night that the contractor, Curran and Briggs, proposed lowering sandbags into the lagoon to close off the area where most of the work will be carried out.
Water from that area would then be pumped back into the rest of the cell so that work could be carried out.
“It’s just big, giant sandbags is what it is,” Gordon explained.
They had the environmental permits for the work and were awaiting final approval from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission. That okay came Tuesday morning. By that time Curran and Briggs Ltd. was already in the process of hauling equipment and supplies to the site.
"If this works, there's going to be no discharge in the back river," Gordon said.
The regular discharge will continue as normal, but the plan eliminates the need to lower the lagoon cell.
“If it doesn’t work, we’re going to look at another scenario. We’re going to be in close contact with the committee at the wharf and see if we can come up with another plan.”
Advised of Plan B
The municipalities of Alberton and Northport each named representatives to a committee to oversee the project.
Northport has Mayor Wendy McNeill, Coun. Lisa Fraser and residents Karen Milligan and Peter Bolo on the committee, while Alberton named Gordon and councillors Blair Duggan, Kelly Williams and David Cahill as its representatives.
Contacted Tuesday, McNeill said she has been advised of Plan B.
“Hopefully, that’s going to work out," she said. “Before we started this, there was no Plan B, and at least now they are looking at and trying to do a Plan B so that they don’t have to do the specific dumping that they talked about originally.”
Gordon said the project, with the revised work plan, is still within a $400,000 budget and could come in under budget if the sandbags work. Otherwise, he said the attempt could cost the town an additional $30,000.
There’s still the matter of Phase Two of the project, the installation of a UV light treatment system.
Council decided Monday night to withdraw its funding application for Phase 2 until Phase 1 is completed.
Gordon said project engineers want at least six months of data from the flow meter, which is to be installed in Phase 1, before ordering the appropriate UV light. He’s hopeful the system will be ready for installation next spring. That phase of the upgrade project, he said, is expected to cost nearly $900,000. Taken together, he said the two-phase approach should give Alberton one of the best lagoon systems in P.E.I.