Septage Management in Tiny
There are serious concerns about the direction of the septage management study being undertaken by the Township of Tiny.
The study appears to be progressing toward a pre-determined conclusion based on campaign promises of a “Made in Tiny” solution, with only cursory investigation, analysis and review of other alternatives. By narrowing the study to a single alternative at this stage, Tiny may be compromising long-term, environmentally responsible action in the name of short-term economies. Alternatively, Tiny may be about to waste significant tax dollars if the chosen alternative is rejected by the public once a site has been selected for septage disposal.
Septage management in Tiny has received very limited attention judging from the lack of press coverage and the weak attendance at three public meetings held during the first phase of the Class Environmental Assessment by R.J Burnside and Associates. Only 28 people attended the first Public Information Centre presentation in July 2011, 34 attended the second PIC presentation in November 2011 and 28 attended the third PIC presentation in June 2012. Over half of the attendees at each meeting consisted of staff and members of the Project Advisory Committee. At this stage, residents of Tiny are simply not aware of the proposed solution, or of its implications. Neighboring residents are equally unaware of the potential collaborative opportunities which have seemingly been ignored by their elected representatives.
On August 13th Tiny Council approved a motion to proceed with a Class 3 and Class 4 Environmental Assessment of the construction of a full septage treatment works in Tiny. The motion passed by a vote of 4 to 1, with Mayor Millar opposed.
Passage of the August 13th motion pre-empted a public debate of the final Burnside report of alternatives. It also terminated any further discussions with neighbors such as Midland or Waypoint regarding collaboration on the treatment of sewage and septage in the region, even though:
a) It is truly a regional issue, not just a Tiny issue. In addition to the 9400 residences in Tiny, approximately 1300 private septic systems in Midland and Penetanguishene are currently serviced by haulers who use spreading sites in Tiny for disposal by land application.
b) Midland’s Waste Water Treatment Plant is only half utilized. While Midland has been searching for income opportunities from neighboring communities to alleviate their budget shortfall, Midland residents appear completely unaware of the opportunities afforded by collaborating with Tiny on septage disposal. This single project could generate up to $0.6 million in annual tipping fees, compared to the $1.75 million over 58 potential savings opportunities recently identified by KPMG.
c) Waypoint is considering the construction of a new Waste Water Treatment Plant, which could be designed to incorporate sewage and septage from neighboring communities. The Burnside report cites “unknowns … related to project timing, funding and the basis for charges at the plant, who would be the lead municipality, wastewater quantity and quality, etc.” as the basis for rejecting this alternative. None of these excuses would pose a major challenge in the face of serious commitment to action.
The “Full Septage Treatment Works” alternative selected by Tiny Council involves technologies, yet to be evaluated, such as alkaline stabilization, anaerobic digestion, composting, geo-tubes, lagoons and/or reed filter beds. These technologies may well be feasible and economical. However, they fall short of a best-in-class solution in this age of environmental awareness.
The site has yet to be identified, although the 54-acre former North Simcoe Hunters and Anglers site (now the Tiny Community Centre) and the Tiny Public Works site have long been rumoured to be the preferred locations of certain Council members. Regardless of the final selection, there is a strong probability that the storage and disposal of sewage without treatment in a modern Waste Water Treatment Plant will elicit a neighborhood reaction, possibly rivalling the Site 41 situation.
Mayor Millar made a motion at Council’s November 26 Committee of the Whole meeting to separate the costs of the next study phase from the 2013 budget in an attempt to reopen debate before $400,000 of taxpayer’s money is spent on a doomed single-alternative process. The motion failed, but may yet stimulate public awareness and encourage further negotiations with Midland and Waypoint in what could and should be a win-win solution.
President Clearwater Beach Ratepayers Association