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All levels of government represented at opening of $16.2 million wastewater treatment plant

ST. PAUL - The $16.2 million modernization to the wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul was unveiled Friday morning with all three levels of government on hand for the official opening.

It was a good day for St. Paul, according to Mayor Maureen Miller who acknowledged the people who led the way in seeing the essential upgrade to the existing facility become a much-needed reality for the community. However, before offering her appreciation to the various levels of government for their funding support, Miller first and foremost acknowledged Bert Pruneau, the Town’s Director of Utilities, who she said works behind the scenes but plays a significant role in the management of the community’s water utility.

“Bert is solely responsible in leading his team in keeping our water safe and keeping our community safe. Bert, single-handedly on behalf of Town and council, I have to thank you for the work you do. You don’t get that often enough, I think.”

MPE Engineering Ltd. was recognized by the mayor for working through the challenge of upgrading and modernizing a treatment plant that needed to keep running throughout the construction phase.

“We really appreciate the work in rejigging a treatment plant. I know that it’s much easier to maybe take it down and start over as with any other major renovation. You stuck with us as we went to the government for additional funds and quite frankly you have given a lot to our community, and it would be a miss if I didn’t truly thank you for that.”

MPE project manager Jason Stusick told Lakeland This Week the unique part of the project was accommodating the treatment requirements of the existing facility and keeping it working through the construction phase.

“This project went very well. It was a retrofit project where we were working right next to a live facility, so the plant always had to be operational while we were building the new one. That was a component of the project that had some more risk to it but it actually all went quite well . . . The Town was very accommodating, and Bert in particular helped facilitate the project forward.”

Initially pegged at just over $11 million, the project received a 50 per cent grant from the federal Canadian Water and Wastewater Fund in the amount of $5.5 million with the Town taking out a debenture for the balance. However, the Town quickly came to realize the funding was not enough to undertake the project to the level it needed to meet environmental standards, offset increases in construction costs and adapt the existing facility seamlessly into the modernization project. The final price tag came in at $16.2 million. A provincial government grant of $3.4 million was obtained and the Town secured a second debenture in the amount of $1.7 million.

“For a community of our size to have taken out another debenture for that additional money, we don’t have a large tax base so to have you come in with the same importance and understand the development of this to our future, we truly appreciate you backing us up and getting this done. This project wouldn’t have been made possible without both contributions. Today we celebrate,” Miller said, singling out MLA David Hanson for working alongside the community every step of the way to get the project in motion.

For his part, Hanson said he continues to “hammer the drum” reminding his colleagues in caucus that the Lakeland is a significant contributor to the provincial economy.

“We provide a lot for the province as well, so it’s nice to see that recognized in projects such as this,” he said.

Provincial Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney expressed the importance of ensuring Alberta’s municipal infrastructure meets the needs of residents going forward. She commended the Town for pursuing a high standard for the modernization project.

“The plant has provided St. Paul with a state-of-the-art facility to replace the old plant that was nearing the end of its lifecycle. The new facility will serve St. Paul for at least 25 years and the new capacity has been built in for future growth,” she said. “As we all know, water is our most precious resource, and we must continue to provide the right facilities to meet environmental standards of today and tomorrow. Clean drinking water and proper treatment of effluent are core services for all municipalities.”

MP Shannon Stubbs, currently on the federal campaign trail and taking a break from door-knocking, commended the mayor and council for taking the project from concept to reality.

“You are tenacious and consistent and reliable as an advocate for the people and the community overall in St. Paul,” she said, adding, “The work that you have done in council, the work the Town has done to ensure this project completed, really can’t be overstated.”

Clare Gauvreau

About the Author: Clare Gauvreau

Clare Gauvreau has worked for the St. Paul Journal for more than 20 years as a journalist, editor and publisher. In her role today as newspaper publisher she continues to contribute news and feature articles on a regular basis.
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