Sewage treatment plant failure in Snow Lake: septic sewage must be hauled away during repairs

A “catastrophic failure” in Snow Lake’s wastewater treatment plant resulted in 500 cubic metres of sewage going septic, which means it will have to be hauled to the Wabowden sewage lagoon while repairs take place, the Town of Snow Lake said in an Aug. 15 press release.

The failure occurred in the cell on one side of the sewage treatment plant while an engineer was diagnosing a recurring problem in the cell on the other side.

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“[The sewage] can’t be dumped into the lake and it can’t be reintroduced to the plant once repairs have taken place (doing so would render the treatment process inert),” said the press release. “The contents of the cell must be removed and hauled to the nearest licensed sewage lagoon capable of handling it, which is Wabowden. It is estimated that hauling the septic sewage and the inherent repair work at the plant should take no longer than 30 days to accomplish.”

The Town of Snow Lake says that no sewage effluent is being released into Snow Lake at this time and that any that has been or will be is being reported to Manitoba Sustainable Development.

“The odours some have been experiencing are though to be coming from the septic sewage within the plant," the press release said, adding that the town has the money to pay for the sewage to be hauled to Wabowden and a plan to accommodate cottage owners and contractors with their own sewage hauls.

At the time the failure occurred, the engineering firm that designed the sewage treatment plant was investigating the other cell of the facility to determine why chains that drive the agitating process were breaking, resulting in portions of the agitation process failing and the sporadic release of untreated effluent into Snow Lake.  The chains drive two Bio-Wheels in each of the plant’s cells.

“They found that the Bio-Wheels that these chains drive were manufactured with a lip or scraper on the bottom of them … and as the chain came by, it would catch on the scraper, causing undue wear,” the press release explains. “This in turn was bringing about a premature failure of the chains. The fix was easy; just a matter of flipping the chains over, so the pins that hold them are facing away from the Bio-Wheel.”

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