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. A similar system is being built in north Edmonton (NEST).
Gold Bar already treats wastewater from south Edmonton today; the same wastewater that will be carried by the SESS system. The SESS system is expected to connect to Gold Bar around 2038. When it is connected in 2038 there will be no change in sewage volumes coming to Gold Bar; the same wastewater will arrive through a newer set of pipes. The NEST system is planned to connect to the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Treatment Plant in Strathcona County near Fort Saskatchewan.
The Sanitary Servicing Strategy Fund (SSSF) Oversight Committee is responsible for deciding how sewage volumes are handled in the Edmonton Region.
In 2017, the SSSF Oversight Committee decided to route the SESS system to the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant (GBWWTP). The SSSF Oversight Committee is chaired by the City of Edmonton.
EPCOR did not make the SESS routing decision in 2017, and did not make any proposal to reroute the trunk line. EPCOR was not on the committee at this time but provided information about the GBWWTP as did the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission. Since the transfer of Drainage Services to EPCOR in 2017 (which occurred after the SESS routing decision was made), EPCOR Drainage has joined this committee as one of six voting members.
Sanitary flows from the City areas serviced by the SESS system are currently sent to Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant through the existing sewer infrastructure. This has not increased the Gold Bar WWTP's impact on the surrounding area.
Community considerations after SESS connects to GBWWTP
EPCOR's forecasts of future sewage volumes for Edmonton show slow growth over time and this trend of slow growth will not change following completion of the SESS trunk line. There will be no major or sharp increase in flows of wastewater to Gold Bar following the completion of the SESS line. Currently Gold Bar WWTP already treats wastewater from south Edmonton today – the same wastewater that will be carried by the SESS system. There would be no major change in volumes coming to Gold Bar when the SESS is connected around 2038 – the same wastewater will arrive through a newer set of pipes.
There is currently sufficient capacity at the Gold Bar WWTP to treat the growth in flows over time inside the existing fenceline and without any expansion of the plant footprint.
This means we can safely treat all flows coming to the plant through 2061 without any impact to surrounding parkland, trail system and neighbouring communities. In fact there is no current or future risk to the community with future flows to public health and odour data demonstrated a continued decline.
Timing of the SESS connection to GBWWTP
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 connection point of the South Edmonton Sanitary Sanitary Sewer (SESS) trunk line. The final segment of the SESS system is not expected to enter development until at least 2030 and would not connect to a wastewater treatment facility until after 2038. EPCOR remains committed to assisting the City of Edmonton in planning and executing the public engagement activities related to the governance of regional wastewater planning. The City of Edmonton continues to lead consultations on the SSSF governance model for future wastewater planning decisions related to routing new trunk lines. However, no decision is required on the final routing of the trunk line until at least the late 2020s.
Deep underground tunneling to construct a better system after 2030
Construction of the SESS system is unlikely to impact the river valley or the Gold Bar 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.
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. 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 the volume of flows received for treatment.