Millions of dollars will have to be spent on water and wastewater systems before more industrial and residential growth can occur in Acton and Georgetown. Peter Crockett, Halton Region's Commissioner of Planning and Public Works told Halton Hills council at a meeting earlier this month, that at least $30 million will be needed to upgrade the water supply and wastewater treatment plants in both communities. There is currently no extra water in Halton Hills' well system to support future development (beyond what has already been draft approved). Acton and Georgetown urban areas both rely on well-based water supply and stream-based (Black Creek and Silver Creek) wastewater treatment systems, and over-extenuating of both can lead more readily to environmental impacts than the usage of Lake Ontario-based systems. There is no extra water supply pumping from Acton's five wells to support any additional growth. But there is some capacity left in the Churchill Rd. wastewater treatment plant equivalent to 112 single detached homes (SDE). The currently serviced population is 10,041 and 100 hectares of employment lands. Halton Region staff started work on a water master plan for Acton in 2003, and this year began work on a wastewater master plan. The water master plan is looking at whether more water can be pumped from the Prospect Park well field, but this is contingent on pumping tests and environmental study reports under an Environmental Assessment (EA). A public meeting is expected in early 2007. If the EA is successful, Halton Region will apply to the Ministry of Environment (MOE) for a permit to take more water that could be issued by summer 2007.
"Now that means with that ability to take more water out of the ground, we can take advantage very quickly thereafter of the release of the remaining 112 SDEs on the wastewater capacity side," said Crockett. Once the permit is received, Acton's water treatment plant will require an upgrade, valued at $700,000, but that only will serve the 112 SDE capacity in the wastewater system. More water beyond that will require a reservoir and wastewater treatment plant expansions. The reservoir is estimated at $1 million and is scheduled in Halton Region's 2008 capital budget. To expand the wastewater plant beyond the 112 SDE, will require $14 million for build out of the Acton urban area. Key, said Crocket, will be the capacity of Black Creek, a sensitive coldwater fishery-- to absorb the effluent discharge from the wastewater plant. There will be have to be a fair amount of work to study that, he said. "From an expansion perspective, excluding the Maple Leaf lands, we need about 5,600 cubic metres per day of treatment capacity added on. That translates to about 150 residential units and 61 hectares of industrial or commercial lands or about 1,000 SDE," said Crockett. The plant upgrade cost goes to $16 million if the Maple Leaf (Beardmore) lands are built on. Halton Region may also look at alternative servicing for that area, including septic wells. "Our intent is in 2008 we will be able to balance both the water supply through the watertaking permit and be on our way with the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant so we can move forward (with growth) within the Acton community," said Crockett. Acton Councillor Mike O'Leary noted that his community is losing out on industries relocating there because there is no water available. That growth is needed he said and asked whether water distribution to industries could be based on square footage of the building instead of the number of hectares/whole lot. Crockett says it's something that could be looked at, but approvals are based on the potential a commercial or industrial lot could achieve, although maybe not currently used now. He added a recent audit of water use in Acton showed the consumption for water is comparable to the allocation. Georgetown's seven wells serve 36,573 people (as of 2005) including (Stewarttown, Glen Williams and Norval) and 350 hectares of employment lands. All are pumping at capacity and there is no capacity to allocate to future developments. That does not include the homes or ICI (industrial, commercial or institutional)-- equivalent to 1,849 single detached homes-- still to be built that have been allocated water. The wastewater treatment plant on Resources Rd. does have remaining capacity equivalent to 3,678 single detached homes-- sufficient for the build-out of lands within the current urban boundary. EAs under way include determining whether additional water capacity can be pumped from the Cedarvale well field and the Lindsay Ct. well and the $4-5 million expansion of the Georgetown Water Purification Plant in Cedarvale Park. Permits may come in the fall of 2007. "As these approvals come on board," said Crockett, "we feel there is a real opportunity to do some re-rating and optimization at the Georgetown water treatment plant before fullscale construction and in doing that we feel in the early going we may be able to release another 500 SDEs for the Georgetown area." Halton Region has included in the 2007 draft budget of $5.4 million for a digester upgrade of the wastewater plant so that the sludge does not have to be sent by two trucks a day to the MidHalton Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is expected to address residents' ongoing odour concerns, Crockett said. For more information see Halton Region's report PPW89-06 on its website, www.halton.ca