The City of Fernie is once again allowing public participation at council meetings. (File Photo)

Treated effluent to be sent into Elk River

The City of Fernie also reinstates public participation periods in regular council meetings

Due to excessive amounts of water in the sanitary sewer collection system, the City of Fernie will also be disposing treated effluent into the Elk River from Aug. 11 until Sept. 15.

The discharges will be in accordance with the Ministry of Environment Operating Permit.

According to Ayla Bennett, environmental educator with Wildsight, the reason there is excess water is due to leaky pipes causing excess water and diluted wastewater to flow into the treatment system, therefore burdening it.

Under normal circumstances, water is treated before being discharged back to the Elk River through a passive system that involves a number of filtering stations, aeration ponds and exfiltration ponds. If the city bypasses the usual system, they are required to notify the public.

According to Bennett, when the city is discharging treated effluent, the water goes into a tank where a flocculant is added to settle out the solids. It is then treated by UV light before being discharged into the river.

“It is a very acceptable and responsible treatment option, which I was very happy to see the city install,” said Bennett.

To help alleviate stress on the system, Bennett recommends the public only flush organic waste and toilet paper. She also urges citizens to avoid flushing any medications into the system, as they result in strained ecosystems.

Bennett further reminds residents to avoid dumping oil, trash, cigarette butts, and other environmentally hazardous materials into storm drains, as they are directly discharged into the Elk River.

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In other news, the City of Fernie has reinstated a virtual and in person 15 minute public participation period at regular meetings of council.

The in person meetings held at the Community Centre will incorporate a number of pandemic protocols, including a maximum public occupancy limit of 10 attendees, separate entrances and exits, contact tracing, mandatory masks, and the required use of hand sanitizer.

To participate electronically, those interested will be issued a link allowing virtual access to the meeting. The opportunity to contribute via a ‘raise hand’ button will then be offered.

Participants can also call in.

All council meetings will continue to be available for public viewing via Facebook live.

For more information on how the City of Fernie is adapting to COVID-19, visit the city’s website.

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