The aeration blowers at Fernie's sewerage treatment facility. Pictured is a cannibalized blower and the two that remain operational. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)

Elements killing city infrastructure

Sewerage treatment plant infrastructure has been failing less than halfway into operational lives

The City of Fernie is spending $75,000 on additional infrastructure at the city’s sewerage treatment lagoons after critical infrastructure began failing at around 50 percent of its lifespan.

According to a staff report, two of three aeration blowers at the lagoon failed in 2020. Emergency funding was used to bring one of the failed pieces equipment back to working order.

The blowers are used to help treat effluent from the city by aerating the waste.

They were all installed in 2009, with a projected lifespan of 80,000-100,000 hours. All three were up to 45,000-50,000 hours when they began to experience breakdowns, compromising the city’s ability to treat effluent.

According to the staff report, further research and staff discussions with other municipalities, “the consensus is that they do not function well as true outside units and using them as such lowers their lifespan expectancy. This related directly to the breakdowns the city is experiencing.”

The blowers had each individually been confined within smaller sheds (more like boxes), and according to staff were overheating in summer triggering an auto-shutdown, and exposed to the cold in winter which was shortening their lifespan.

As a result, staff recommended the purchase of a larger modular shed to protect all three blowers (the replacement of the third blower is budgeted already at a cost of $74,547 with an additional $10,000 for a heater).

Because the budget for the replacement was originally set at $180,000, staff recommended the city also consider a new modular shed to protect all three blowers, at a cost of $75,000. Combined, the replacement of the third blower and the new shed come in below budget.

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