Water pollution control plant re-opened

“It smells pretty good!”
That was how Bruno Seppala of Fort Frances summed up his thoughts on the Water Pollution Control Plant after a guided tour of the upgraded facility during a public open house there last Thursday.
Seppala was one of about 50 people at the open house, which also doubled as a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the plant after a $10.3-million rebuild of its primary side finished up in June.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, town councillors, project committee members, and its planning engineers also were on hand for the grand opening.
The rebuild now means the sewage plant meets pollution guidelines set out by the Ministry of the Environment. Those guidelines allow for a maximum of 25 mg/L of dissolved oxygen and solid waste to flow as effluent from the plant into Rainy River.
“It’s great that we can meet the ministry’s standards and make our neighbours downstream happy,” said Mayor Witherspoon prior to the ribbon-cutting.
“It means we are a good environmental citizen [and] it’s another step in improving the infrastructure of Fort Frances,” he added.
The new plant consists of an automatic bar screen and de-watering press, a cyclone automatic de-gritting system, dual activated sludge treatment clarifiers with mechanical aeration, and phosphorous removal.
Dual rectangular secondary clarifiers, ultraviolet disinfection hypochlorite backup, dual aerobic digesters, and a gravity belt thickener also make up the package.
Bruce Spottiswood, superintendent of Public Works (Facilities), said the plant not only met MoE guidelines but, in fact, was far below the maximum allowable mg/L effluent.
“When we went into this plant design, we had to decrease the effluent by 50 percent [and] last month it was roughly 70 percent below guidelines,” Spottiswood noted.
“I am very proud of this operation, its operators, and all the effort that‘s gone into it,” he added.
Also on hand for the grand opening ceremonies was Mayor Jack Murray of International Falls. Afterwards, he praised the efforts his Borderland neighbours had put into the sewage plant upgrade.
“What [the Town of Fort Frances] has accomplished with that plant helps the environment and, in turn, benefits both of us,” said Mayor Murray.
“I know how much is involved in what they accomplished [and] I commend them for that,” he added.
Mayor Witherspoon and Deputy Mayor Deane Cunningham also recognized the efforts of the late Jerry Tetu, manager of Operations and Facilities, who helped make the plant upgrade a successful venture.
Tetu passed away in August after a long battle with cancer.
“[Jerry] was dogged in trying to make this a reality,” stressed Mayor Witherspoon.
“He spent many hours he wasn’t called for in trying to get things in place, and he spoke with a lot of authority and knowledge on [the project],” he added.