South Edmonton Sanitary Sewer (SESS) Line
The SESS is a system of deep sewer lines (called trunk lines) being built over several decades to provide new infrastructure that will store and carry wastewater from south Edmonton.
Gold Bar already treats wastewater from south Edmonton today which comes to us in existing sewer lines; the same wastewater that would be carried by the SESS system. If the SESS system connects to Gold Bar in 2038 there will be no change in sewage volumes coming to the facility; the same wastewater will simply arrive through a newer set of pipes.
The Sanitary Servicing Strategy Fund (SSSF) Oversight Committee is a committee that is responsible for deciding how sewage volumes are handled in the Edmonton Region. The SSSF Oversight Committee is chaired by the City of Edmonton.
Learn more about the SSSF Oversight Committee
Based on EPCOR's forecasts of future sewage volumes for Edmonton, we expect wastewater flows to increase very slowly over the next four decades as Edmontonians are using less water per person. The continuing decline in individual water use will offset most of the population increase in the region, with peak sewage flow increasing less than one percent per year between now and 2060. We don't expect this trend to change following completion of the SESS trunk line if it connects to the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant facility in 2038. Currently Gold Bar WWTP already treats wastewater from south Edmonton today – the same wastewater that will be carried by the SESS system.
Whether the SESS line is directed to the Gold Bar WWTP in the future or another location, there is sufficient capacity at the Gold Bar WWTP to treat future liquids and solids from now to at least 2060, without the need for physical expansion outside the plant's fenceline. EPCOR's latest long term plan for Gold Bar commits in writing to preserving river valley parkland and trails by keeping Gold Bar's operations within the current fenceline. In fact we are able to treat all flows coming to the plant through 2061 without any impact to surrounding parkland, trail system and neighbouring communities. There is no current or future risk with future flows to public health and odour data has demonstrated a continued decline. Ongoing investment in the plant will continue to reduce odour and reduce the flaring of biogas.
Throughout the past six decades, the Gold Bar WWTP has been significantly updated and improved in order to provide service to the growing Edmonton population. At the same time, we've lowered the plant's impact on the environment and the community through new technology. We are committed to this and will minimize the operational impact of Gold Bar WWTP, no matter what the flows received for treatment are.
Timing of the SESS decision
A decision on the ultimate destination of the SESS flows will not be required until 2028 at the earliest.
Since publically presenting our long-term plan to Utility Committee in fall 2019, there have been no activities on site or changes to our plans that would affect the final destination of the South Edmonton Sanitary Sewer (SESS) trunk line. The final segment of the SESS system is not expected to enter the planning phase until at least 2030 and would not connect to a wastewater treatment facility until sometime after 2038.
Deep underground tunneling to construct a better system after 2030
Construction of the SESS system, should it be directed to the Gold Bar WWTP, would have a minimal impact on the community. Sanitary sewer trunk lines, such as the SESS, are built deep underground through tunneling, with limited impact to communities on the surface. There would be an excavation point at the start of the segment and at the end of the segment, a laydown area for equipment, and potentially an interim shaft along the way. No construction on the final portion of the system is expected until after 2030. At that time, there would be specific community consultation prior to construction to ensure we identify and reduce potential impacts.