Retrofit Winnipeg's Sewage Treatment Plant - Help Lake Winnipeg

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Science First is recommending an interim retrofit to Winnipeg’s largest sewage treatment plant. This retrofit could be implemented quickly and at low cost to significantly reduce the facility’s phosphorus contribution to Lake Winnipeg.

Under its provincial operating licence, the City of Winnipeg must reduce phosphorus in NEWPCC effluent to 1 milligram per litre (mg/L), based on a 30-day rolling average, by Dec. 31, 2019. In 2017, phosphorus concentrations in NEWPCC effluent averaged 3.54 mg/L.

The city has committed to fully upgrading the NEWPCC. However, the project has been repeatedly delayed. On Feb. 28, 2019, city council approved a new plan to split the planned NEWPCC upgrade into three phases. Nutrient removal is the third phase and action is not projected to start before 2030. The report also explicitly states the city intends to request yet another alteration of its provincial operating licence in advance of the Dec. 31, 2019 deadline.


Research at the IISD Experimental Lakes Area shows that phosphorus is the nutrient responsible for potentially toxic algae blooms in freshwater lakes in Canada including Lake Winnipeg.

And Whereas

Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC) is currently the single largest point source of phosphorus flowing into Lake Winnipeg, a lake plagued by algae, with run-off from agriculture chemical fertilizers being the largest non-point source.

And Whereas

The NEWPCC treats approximately 70 per cent of the city’s wastewater, releasing an average of 600 kg of phosphorus into the Red River every single day, this is 3 times higher than municipalities in other areas of Canada.

And Whereas

To meet its provincial licence requirements, the City of Winnipeg must reduce phosphorus in NEWPCC effluent to 1 milligram per litre (mg/L) by Dec. 31, 2019, a reduction of three-and-a-half times the current level.

And Where as

Winnipeg does use some ferric chloride in their sewage treatment plants, like many other municipalities that have met their 1 part per litre phosphorus count for sewage effluent.

And Where as

The use of additional ferric chloride in sewage treatment is safe for human health and the environment to reduce the phosphorous in effluent at reasonable cost of $3 million in capital expenses and $2 million in annual operating expenses.

Therefore be it resolved that the City of Winnipeg work together with the Manitoba Government and Federal Government to secure the $3 million from available infrastructure programs to complete the capital improvements for the ferric chloride upgrades in Winnipeg Sewage Treatment Facilities.

And Further Be It Resolve that the City of Winnipeg and other levels of government ensure the $2 million in annual operating expenses necessary to stay within the sewage treatment phosphorous license and regulation on an ongoing basis.

Read the proposed retrofit here: