With spring in the air, Martensville residents may also notice something else in the air – the smell coming from our local lagoon. Although it may not be the most pleasant aroma, City of Martensville Director of Planning and Infrastructure Matt Gruza notes that it is a common experience for all lagoons. “A certain period of odour can be expected in the spring as the lagoon warms up and the bacteria and enzymes become active. Last year, additional aeration was added to the primary treatment cells of the lagoon, and has already had an improvement on the lagoon odour. Our sewer and water crews are also performing regular cleaning and maintenance of the lagoon aerators, which helps to ensure everything is functioning as designed. We are also treating the lagoon with chemicals to help minimize the period of time when lagoon odour is an issue,” Gruza explained.
With more people at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an early spring thaw, lagoon levels increased faster than originally anticipated this year, therefore, in addition to draining treated effluent into the river, they were also required to discharge treated effluent to the Opimihaw Creek to gain capacity. Currently, the City is discharging treated effluent into the river through the drain-line, and Gruza noted that comparable to other years, there were sections of pipe that were frozen and/or plugged, which crews worked diligently on to get the pipe open and fully operational.
The current lagoon system began seeing increased pressures on the holding capacity and treatment ability due to continued growth in the community; therefore the City began looking for alternate options. In March of 2019, the City of Martensville announced that they received a $20.16 million grant through the New Build Canada Fund, which would be used towards upgrades to the City’s wastewater treatment and water distribution systems. Through the New Building Canada Fund, all approved projects are funded one-third by the Government of Canada, one-third through the Provincial Government and one-third at the municipal level.
With this funding, the City of Martensville will be upgrading the existing lagoons, building a new gravity conveyance system to connect to the City of Saskatoon’s sanitary sewer system, and upgrade the existing sewer lift station.
Gruza stated that the project is still moving forward, with Phase one completed, which included upgrades to Pump Station #1 and communication upgrades at the other lift stations. “This increased the capacity of pump station number one, as well as modernizing the controls, testing equipment and the building itself. We are continuing to work with administration from the City of Saskatoon on the detailed engineering for a wastewater line and a water supply line between Martensville and Saskatoon.” This project is expected to be completed by 2022.
In the meantime, there are ways that residents of Martensville can do their part to help. “Residents can help keep the sanitary sewer system (lift stations, sanitary sewer mains, and lagoon) functioning properly by only flushing waste and toilet paper. There is a major issue in the wastewater industry with “flushable wipes” causing blockages in pipes, and damaging equipment,” stated Gruza. He continued to note that although products are advertised as “flushable”, they do not break down the same way that toilet paper does, and ultimately, need to be removed from the sanitary system by some mechanical means. “This is not a problem that is isolated to Martensville. Many communities are having issues with “flushable” wipes in the sanitary sewer system.”