STRATFORD – The Town of Stratford is paying $1.5 million to bring in Blue Frog to help its stinky sewage treatment lagoon.
These are not live frogs, but a brand name for a colourful floating device, part of a complete system to eliminate bad odours and increase the capacity of the current lagoon system.
The Blue Frog system will see a variety of floating units combined with floating curtains to form virtual tanks, or cells, that act together to create a system that is practically identical to a modern waste treatment plant.
It is designed to work in cold winters with ice cover, requires no special training for staff and does not have a high demand for electricity.
Stratford council passed a resolution approving funding for the system, most of which comes from money already set aside from the gas-tax federal funding program.
It is expected that the system will eliminate odour, expand the lagoon capacity and work effectively to serve the town as it grows over the next five to 10 years.
There will be no fee increase or extensive borrowing money for the project, said Councillor Emile Gallant, chairman of Stratford's infrastructure committee.
"Originally constructed in 1980, the lagoon system was built for a population of 1,750 people," said Stratford Mayor David Dunphy.
"To account for the rapid growth within Stratford, a number of carefully considered upgrades have been performed over the past 15 years. Unfortunately we are not getting the desired performance from the plant.
"The Blue Frog system promises to improve performance to a level that ensures the town can continue to grow and demonstrates our commitment to respecting the natural environment while we continue to work towards a long-term solution," said Dunphy.
Studies have suggested some of those long-term solutions would be a choice of building a new treatment plant, building a new lagoon or getting the waste over to Charlottetown's plant somehow, by truck or pipe.
"These are very high-priced projects," said Gallant.
About $10 million back in 2009 when prices were calculated. Those options are still being considered, with ongoing consultations and negotiations, said Gallant.
"Hopefully in the near future some long-term decisions will be made," he said.
The trouble is, environment officials are getting agitated about the situation of waste treatment right now in Stratford, he said.
"In consultation with the provincial Department of Environment, Labour and Justice, it was determined that the Blue Frog System or similar upgrade would be required to ensure that the effluent quality requirements are met and the continued growth of the town is not hampered," said Gallant.
Work is expected to begin on the project in May but will take many months to fine tune, council was told.