Westport's Snowfluent system was operating on this day in December 2013 but it seems that was one of the few days it actually ran this past winter.
By Howie Crichton
Westport’s water and sewer operator and the Justice of the Peace hearing his case in Brockville court last week ended up with a difference of opinion on how serious his offences were.
John Doran fined Tony Coccimiglio and his one-man numbered company 7064152 Canada Ltd. a total of $35,000 after finding him guilty of all 13 charges laid against him by the Ministry of the Environment.
Coccimiglio, whose company was paid close to $100,000 a year to operate the system, was let go early this year after operating the system for most or all of its 20-year existence.
The Ottawa man was facing as much as $2 million in fines for the 13 charges that included, on the water side, failure to have an accredited operator, a failure to have proper logs and the failure to have an alarm should minimum chlorine levels not be sustained. Issues around the waste water system included failures during different periods to monitor chlorides, total ammonia nitrogen and nitrates nitrogen, all parameters which are required to be tested under the system’s Certificate of Approval.
The non-compliance issues, alleged to have taken place dating back to 2009, came to a head in July 29, 2013.
The Village of Westport pled guilty to two charges in January 2014 in a deal with the Ministry of the Environment that saw them drop other charges against the village involving the water and sewer system.
The court fined the village $3500 on each of the two counts.
The two charges involved letting an operator licensing requirement to lapse and not having enough hours of training in another area.
The neglect of the Snowfluent System and this winter’s large snowfall and runoff, forced the village to discharge their secondary lagoon into the Upper Rideau twice – roughly 12,000,000 litres each time. The village had permission to do it the second time, in the middle of May, after satisfying eight MOE conditions.
However, they didn’t have permission to do it the first time, in mid-April. The village did inform MOE of the first discharge but had to proceed, before MOE had time to act, to keep the lower lagoon from breaching its berm.
“Your certificate of approval does allow you to perform a bypass in an emergency,” Westport Clerk-Treasurer told council at their May meeting.
“But that doesn’t preclude MOE enforcement from coming back to us,” he said.
MOE still hasn’t decided whether to bring charges against the village for the first discharge.
One of the few final costs the village does know is the bill for trucking and treating the wastewater hauled to Smiths Falls for a month. The final invoice from the Town of Smiths Falls for treating the trucked effluent was $26,773 and the combined trucking bill from Bartels and Tomlinson Environmental was $160,135 for a total of $186,908.
The trucking ended about May 16 and the second discharge ended the next day. The system should have enough capacity to last until they can start land application some time this month. It will be the third summer land application has taken place after insufficient snowmaking over the winter.
The village also has to develop an operational plan for the wastewater treatment system and an MOE-ordered environmental assessment, with a public feedback component, some time in the coming months.