Greener and Leaner:

           Waste Water Treatment
            for the 21st Century


Mr. Mayor and City Councillors:
Before you meet to consider the motion to extend central servicing to Manotick, please take the time to read and review the enclosed information.  This is not only critical for the Village of Manotick but for all of Ottawa’s taxpayers. 

You have the opportunity to take the lead in bringing our city into the 21st century.

Vote for local waste treatment in rural Ottawa.

Start with Manotick

Executive Summary

$27 million is too much for servicing <400 housing units

As the media has reminded us daily during recent budget deliberations, Ottawa’s financial situation is fragile and yet you are being asked to sanction a multi-million dollar solution to a small waste treatment problem in two small areas of Manotick.  The cost is almost $72,000 per unit, and that’s only an estimate. It may balloon to much more. There are less expensive alternatives available now using local technology.


Alternative waste treatment solutions – A cost effective, "green" model for Manotick and for the rest of rural Ottawa

Small diameter collector sewers are a low cost, "green" alternative to the big pipe. Ontario companies (some with their headquarters in Ottawa) supply systems that can be installed faster, with much less cost and site disruption to residents and local businesses, the lifeblood of the village. Manotick has its own tertiary treatment plant that treats to a higher standard than the proposed central sewer option. A City Request for Proposals will give private sector firms the opportunity to prepare firm price quotations, comparing these cost-saving alternative solutions to the city-proposed "big pipe" solution. Independent consultants should be tasked with completing a thorough technical and economic analysis of all capital and operating costs (private and public) for both options. This will permit public scrutiny of the basis for the final decision.


●  All Manotick’s ratepayers will be affected, not just the "early adopters". Therefore, all should have a vote on this important issue.

While the big pipe option will invariably affect every village ratepayer, less than 20% of them were given the right to vote on the matter. In effect, the votes of these two small areas of the village will define for the remaining 80% what kind of service the whole village is to have. In addition, many from the "priority areas" of Hillside Gardens and the Core found the City’s ‘Sanitary Sewer Information Kit’ cost estimates vague and misleading. As a result, many signed the petition without fully appreciating the upfront costs to connect to city sewers. Connection costs will be substantial and beyond the means of many petitioners. Also, city staff started designing the sewer without direction from city council.


Let’s get it right – and right away.

State of the art, cost effective, environmentally friendly systems are available. These systems deserve an unbiased peer review, so as Councillor Brooks has said, "we can compare apples to apples." Although directed by council in 2003, a proper evaluation of alternative waste treatment technologies was never accomplished by city staff. As a result, the village was left in the dark as to the availability of alternative wastewater technologies – and the many examples of systems throughout Ontario where they have been operational for nearly a decade. The citizens of Ottawa, who will ultimately pay the bill for the final decision, are owed an unbiased evaluation. Then, and only then, will Council have the facts to make a sound decision.



Take the lead in bringing our city into the 21st century.

Vote for local waste treatment in rural Ottawa.

Start with Manotick


Don’t throw bad money after good:

Transparency and Local Participation Needed
In Decisions Affecting All Manotick’s Ratepayers

There are 93 waste treatment plants in the Ottawa River Watershed Region. Of these, only 5 treat waste effluent to the highest global standards – the "tertiary" level. Manotick has one, supplied by an Ottawa company that provides such systems worldwide. It is paid for. The plant has significant spare capacity – enough to handle Manotick’s waste treatment needs for the foreseeable future. Only minor improvements to the plant are needed to enable the modest expansion, and no new environmental assessment. The other additional cost to Ottawa’s taxpayers to utilize this spare capacity is to provide pipes to connect the small number of village residences and businesses that need this service to the existing treatment plant. Local technology companies stand ready to provide these pipes. Using a low-cost and low impact small diameter sewage collection system the areas in need could be flushing into the plant within months. Everyone recognizes the benefits; utilizing the available capacity in a world-class facility, designed and built by a local company, bought and paid for by Ottawa taxpayers. Everyone, that is, except city staff.

Incredibly, city staff have rejected the use of this tertiary treatment plant altogether. Instead, they propose to shut it down, forcing the village to connect to the city’s historic ROPEC central sewage treatment plant, where, after paying to pump untreated waste nearly 55km through the city’s combined sewer and wastewater system, it is treated to a LOWER LEVEL of purity at the Robert O. Pickard facility (rated by Pollution Watch as the 2nd worst municipal water polluter in Ontario and the 5th worst in Canada). To achieve this they will have to construct a force main along the Rideau River and then tear up the village streets with excavation trenches – causing disruptions that will last years. For the privilege, city taxpayers will be asked to pay 17 million dollars more than the cost of a small diameter sewer that treats the village waste with the existing tertiary plant.

City staff claim that they conducted a cost comparison between an unsolicited proposal from a local company proposing a small diameter sewer solution and expansion of the existing Manotick treatment plant that was apparently costed at less than half of the city’s cost estimates for the "big pipe" solution. Without explaining the details of their comparison they came to the astonishing conclusion that the difference between the two was a mere "5% or so". Six of one or half a dozen of the other, apparently, defaults to the central sewer option. As so, the central sewer was recommended to councilors on the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee as the solution to Manotick’s current and future wastewater treatment needs.

Manotick Villagers are understandably concerned about the lack of transparency of the city staff in deliberations that will have such an important effect on their immediate future. Indeed all of Ottawa’s ratepayers should share this concern. Repeated requests to city staff for an open accounting of this cost comparison have been refused – claiming reasons of confidentiality. Consequently the taxpayers of Manotick – and of Ottawa -- remain in the dark on this important issue.

The city staff conclusions – and the methods used to arrive at them, are wrong-headed. The present needs of the village can be accommodated by upgrading an existing efficient modern solution that doesn’t demand a return to 19th century technology. Local treatment options are scalable and can therefore accommodate growth as effectively as the big pipe option. In short, there is no compelling argument for connecting Manotick to the city’s central sewer.

This is about residents wanting input into decisions affecting their lives. Deliberations of this importance must be made transparent to the taxpayer and the citizens who are affected by them must be given the opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

It is not too late to get this right: City Council should direct staff to issue Requests for Proposals to small group of qualified bidders for the following:

Option A: To expand Manotick’s Tertiary Treatment Plant to accommodate flows from the two priority areas in the village (Hillside Gardens and village core), and to supply and install a system of small-diameter sewers to connect these areas to the existing treatment plant.

Option B: To supply and install conventional gravity sewers and pumping stations to connect priority areas of Manotick to the city’s central sewer service, and then to pump the Manotick wastewater more than 50 km. to the ROPEC secondary treatment plant, as currently proposed by city staff.

All costs – private and public, also capital and operating – should be considered for both options. The technical and economic dimensions of all proposals received should be scrutinized by an independent engineering consultant. The proposals and this evaluation should also be made available for public review. Several Manotick residents have the engineering background and expertise to meaningfully participate in such a review – and are willing to do so. A summary of the deliberations should also be made public. Following this all of Manotick’s ratepayers should have the right to vote on which option they prefer.

West Manotick Community Association


A Public Speech 

Sponsored by The Rural Council of Ottawa Carleton

Greener, Cheaper and Sooner:  Alternatives to the Manotick Big Pipe


Martin Hauschild

President & CEO, Seprotech Systems Inc.

[pdf-Version - with photographs]

Date: 19 April 2008

I would like to thank the rural council for inviting me to speak here today, thank you for having me and for giving me the opportunity to speak to you on the topic of environmental technology as it applies to wastewater here in the City of Ottawa. I would like to offer some ideas that offer a greener alternative to the Big Pipe, a cheaper alternative and achievable on a much faster schedule.

Policy, Power and Control

I’d like to start by framing the Manotick debate in a broader context. When we talk about wastewater issues in Ottawa, we’re not just talking about an individual pipeline project for Munster or a pipeline project in Manotick or the best means of handling the wastes at Hillside Gardens. What we’re really talking about here, and the reason City officials across Canada are very hard hitting on the topic of Big Pipe alternatives is around who has the power and control of how cities are developed.

Here in Ontario we have a defined development methodology. We have Official Plans, we have Environmental Assessments, we have Certificates of Approval and a host of other planning tools. In the end though, nothing can happen in the City unless the Big Pipe is run by the City to a development. Neither water lines nor power lines are a show stopper – the hammer that City officials hold - is the Big Pipe. The Big Pipe is a powerful development tool. Every Big Pipe that has ever been put into the ground in Ontario has reached capacity within ten years. The installation of the Big Pipe can be used as a reward for some and its denial is a punishment for others. It’s almost like the Big Pipe is a parallel development tool to all of the official planning tools.

Imagine then what happens when individual communities or individual developers reject the Big Pipe in favour of their own infrastructure. What happens is that development power shifts away from the City and towards individual communities. Big City centralized power is reduced and there is no way some officials will allow that to happen. To prevent this "rural anarchy" from happening, these officials will say anything, reject better environmental alternatives and spend any amount of money in order to protect their base of power, their turf. Far be it for Manotick to set a precedent.

I am optimistic that in the fullness of time, the development model of today will change. The City of Ottawa has become so large and these projects are becoming so expensive, that ultimately the debt charges, escalating taxes and water bills will cause the system to creak and groan to the point where it is no longer sustainable. It would be nice to think that dawning realization would set in before the system collapses under the weight of its own inefficiency.

The current Manotick Big Pipe debate, like the Munster pipeline debate before it, requires the public to suspend disbelief. We have to set logic aside. In the end, the decision that politicians will take, or perhaps the decision they will be backed into a corner to take, is driven by power and political interests and not logic or saving money or being good stewards of the environment.

The State of Secondary Treatment Technology…

The City of Ottawa is known for high technology innovation and for the number of companies that locate here to work in this field. We’ve become communication wizards, masters of software programming and computer experts of every shape and variety. These technologies race ahead and you only have to think back five years to realize how much things have changed in only a very short time.

So when you look at where we are today with environmental technologies, it’s really not quite the same thing. Although there are cities and communities with very sophisticated and advanced water and wastewater technologies – I’m thinking about communities like Barrie, Niagara Falls, Collingwood and Essex County – here in Ottawa we’re in the dark ages. Actually, it’s sort of worse than that. The dark ages go back about a thousand years. Secondary wastewater treatment was invented before the dark ages, during Roman times. The Romans invented trickling filters, a secondary treatment technology that gives about the same effluent quality as any secondary wastewater treatment plant of today.

When it comes to wastewater treatment – time has stood still. Sure there are innovations in controls, pipelines, management systems and so forth but I think that where it matters, in effluent quality, in what we put into our environment, in what becomes our drinking water of tomorrow, that we are falling short. This is just a guess but I suspect that if cities were required to discharge their sewage effluent upstream of the city and upstream of water intakes, that we would be very quick to embrace new technologies. As it is, we discharge downstream – let Montreal deal with the problem.

Whenever I raise concerns about the discharge of primary or secondary effluents into our waters, there’s a chorus of voices that say things like "it’s within the policy guidelines of the MOE", or "these are best practices" or "the receiving body is large enough" but the fact of the matter is we are putting our poop, our pharmaceuticals, hormones, nutrients and everything that is the stuff of life, into our watercourses. We can do better.

Here’s what I find tough to bear: We have an incredibly complex policy and legal framework for wastewater treatment. In the end, everything is distilled down to the lowest common denominator. Requirements are reduced to the absolute bare minimum standard. We end up aiming for mediocrity and generally fail to achieve it.

Advanced Tertiary Wastewater Technology…

I really believe that we will see a change and environmental technologies will be widely adopted. The luxury of a seemingly infinite water supply will fade. Change will come because it will be forced upon us.

The world’s water supplies are extremely limited. Only about 1% of the world’s water is fresh water. That leaves about 2% in the polar ice caps (what is left of them) and 97% as seawater. This is it. This is the total supply of available water and yet over the last 50 years, water consumption worldwide has grown by 5 times. Much of the potable water supply is polluted. We are in a headlong race to destroy our water resources.

This disastrous trend opens up market opportunities for companies like Seprotech. I like to explain the water market this way: The water market is requirements driven. We need water for our survival and we’ll do whatever is necessary to get it. Whatever needs to be spent for a clean and safe water supply will be spent. The wastewater market is compliance driven. The suppliers of this equipment will always build and supply that which meets the absolute bare minimum standard of compliance. I’m not really that keen on working in this space – it doesn’t leave much room for technology innovation and excellence.

There is good news though. The current state of technology is that we can cost effectively convert sewage to drinking water or near drinking water quality, at a price that is less than the Big Pipe, at a price that is less than Secondary Treatment. This is possible for the same reason that TV’s, cars, electronics and a host of other goods, cost less today than they did ten years ago. Developers, mining companies, the military and countries worldwide embrace these technologies. What holds us back here is us – we are voters, we get the governments we deserve and we need to demand change. The solutions are there – the politics has not kept pace.

Seprotech doesn’t focus only on legislative compliance. This is the bare minimum standard and it isn’t enough. Seprotech’s business model is to convert the wastewater market from being compliance driven to being requirement driven. In other words, to convert wastewater from being a waste product to being a valuable commodity. This isn’t going to happen overnight everywhere but we are seeing it happen. For example, we are building very sophisticated wastewater recycling systems in Latin America where water shortages are severe. We are working on projects in the U.S Southwest. The fact is that less than 20% of our water is used for cooking, drinking or human contact. About 80% is used for toilet flushing, general wash water, gardening etc. Here in Canada we even have CMHC and Building Code standards for "three pipe systems" or rather a parallel distribution system for recycled water to the home.

Now, obviously if you are going to use recycled water, it’s got to be treated to a much higher standard than secondary treated water. This is where "advanced tertiary" technology comes into play. If you take the plant in Manotick for example, this plant puts out crystal clear water. The quality of this water as compared with a secondary plant are:

10 x better removal of Organic Material

10 x better removal of solids

33 x better removal of phosphorus

20 x better removal of ammonia

The Manotick plant uses P-03 technology. It’s an advanced tertiary process that targets phosphorus in particular. Phosphorus causes algae blooms but at the levels of phosphorus we’re able to hit, plants cannot take it up. We are the only company that has this technology, it is proprietary to Seprotech, we developed this here in Ottawa and we are very proud of how it has performed.

Now, recently some City officials made comments at the ARAC committee that were negative towards the facility. They said that the Manotick plant had not performed for some 36 months and that there were major problems in 2007 and 2008. I’ve written to the Mayor and the City Manager to have the City retract these statements and to publicly apologize because as I’ve said elsewhere, these statements are inaccurate and misleading. There was no data that supports these claims and in fact, we had a major local Engineering Company prepare a peer review that uses the City’s own data and annual reports and these refute City claims altogether. The fact is this: the Manotick plant operated flawlessly and totally to the design parameters from 2004, 2005 and 2006. The case on this is ironclad, watertight.

What I find curious, and others might draw even more sinister conclusions, is that if the City had problems in 2007 and 2008, why would they not come to the manufacturer and owner of the technology to address the issue. Surely it’s not conceivable that the City would discharge effluent from the Manotick plant into the Rideau River without consulting the manufacturer merely in order to build a case for a pipeline. That may be too cynical – maybe it’s just lack of concern, neglect or insufficient time and resources. Whatever is the case, the City has some explaining to do. As I’ve written The Mayor, fight your battles but not at the expense of a local Cleantech company and employer here in the City.

This Technology is Not Experimental…

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been following news reports in which some at The City have characterized the Seprotech technology as "experimental" or new. Well ladies and gentlemen; we have over 3,000 water and wastewater treatment plants in operation throughout the world. We have hundreds of facilities in Canada. Our equipment is listed in the Building Code. The Ministry of the Environment routinely issues us Certificates of Approval. Seprotech is a public company on the Toronto exchange. We have been in business since 1985. We are in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. We are currently setting up new operations in Latin America. We are growing at over 30% per year. We improve and advance the state of technology all the time and we invest heavily in R&D but to call our technology "experimental" or to call the Manotick plant "a pilot" is inaccurate.

Here are some photographs of a variety of different installations:

So How Much Should it Cost?….

In a new community, the cost of advanced tertiary wastewater treatment should be around $7,500 per home with a small bore collection system being approximately the same for a total wastewater servicing cost of about $15,000 per home. Even when making allowances for consulting, City Staff costs, contingencies etc, this cost is a very far cry from the $75,000 per home cost for the Munster pipeline or the $65,000 per home cost being proposed for Manotick and this cost will surely rocket past $100,000 per home before this project is complete … but I’m probably estimating low.

The wastewater plant operating in Manotick for 72 townhomes is at 16% capacity. There’s a lot more potential capacity in that plant – enough for most or all of Hillside Gardens. The P-03 technology is modular and all of the equipment is standardized so it’s easy to add modules to the plant to add more capacity as needed.

The cost of upgrading the existing Seprotech plant in Manotick to accommodate the wastewater from Hillside Gardens and the core would be around $2.0M. I don’t want to hazard a guess on the cost of a collection system because this is a retrofit but it will be significantly less than the $33M cost of the Big Pipe. The time required to complete this project would be about eight months. There is no requirement for an Environmental Assessment but the Certificate of Approval would need amendment and this takes six to twelve weeks.

It’s very clear that this solution would offer a much greener solution, it’s much cheaper and this work could be completed much faster than the City Big Pipe solution.

Suggestions for Another Way…

Here are the recommendations that The City should consider:

Firstly, Hillside Gardens needs to have a collection system selected and installed. This should be a topic that is totally independent of the treatment methodology whether this is local or Big Pipe. If the treatment is not resolved then the City should truck the wastewater until it is.

Secondly, The City should solicit firm bids for the Hillside Gardens collection system and conduct a cost benefit analysis of small bore collection against traditional gravity collection.

Thirdly, there needs to be a review of piping and treatment alternatives. The Environmental Services Committee should conduct a complete, independent review. The committee should retain a panel of experts from both public and private sector.

Fourthly, the City should solicit Expressions of Interest (EOI’s) for treatment alternatives; and finally

The City should request the City Auditor to conduct a full review on the process that led City Staff to recommend the Big Pipe alternative in Manotick. This should lead to a comprehensive review of water and wastewater servicing in the rural areas of the City of Ottawa.

…In Conclusion…

The bottom line is that pipelines do have their place. They are for inner cities. They are for densely developed suburbs. They are for rural areas when there are plans to develop these areas densely. So pipelines make sense for cities. They make no sense for rural areas where there is no economy of scale and that’s why the costs in Manotick are stunningly high.

Ottawa is the Capital of Canada and this City should be setting the environmental standard in Canada. We have an exciting City and a vibrant and innovative business community. We lead in electronics technology and we could be leaders in environmental technology. We have policies and mindsets to change. The Manotick pipeline issue faces us once again with a choice: Do we go down the same well worn and expensive pipeline route or do we have the courage to take a better path?


Email to ARAC Councillors from Brian Grover, Sanitary Engineer
Sunday, April 20, 2008


Wastewater Management Decision for Manotick


On April 9, Ottawa City Council will be advised to approve a project to address wastewater problems in priority areas in Manotick village, estimated to cost $27million.

I suggest that Council should decide to postpone this decision until a more thorough examination has been completed of alternative, lower cost systems than the solution being proposed by city staff.


Randall Denley’s article on April 5 in the Ottawa Citizen gives a succinct overview of the issue, but does not propose a solution. That’s not his job.

Let me, a sanitary engineer with more than 30 years of experience, try to ventilate the issue and propose a possible solution. [At one time I was a partner in an Ottawa consulting firm. My last position before retirement was as global manager of multi-disciplinary teams at the World Bank in Washington D.C., working exclusively to find affordable and sustainable solutions to water supply and sanitation problems in many different countries].

I am a resident in the downtown core area of Manotick. Despite having an upgraded septic system that works satisfactorily, my wife and I voted for the city petition to pay for sewers and treatment facilities, so as to resolve the environmental problems that retard development in our part of the village. We are ready to pay more than $20,000 for the only technical solution that was offered in the petition. But we would obviously prefer a solution with lower costs and less disruption. No such choice was offered.

Our Manotick neighbours, the residents of Hillside Gardens, have repeatedly sought city help to resolve their serious environmental problems. They, too, voted for their own sewer petition. Their heartfelt pleas at the ARAC meeting on March 31 for an urgent solution helped to persuade that committee to recommend going full steam ahead with the “big pipe” alternative proposed by city staff for all of Manotick.

Conventional sewer technology has changed little within the past century, apart from improved pipe materials. Conventional sewers are very expensive because the relatively large pipes, needed to carry solid and liquid wastes without blocking, must be installed in deep trenches that slope towards the treatment site. This often necessitates pumping stations to lift the sewage. These, too, are expensive to build and operate

Within the past few decades, researchers – including Canadians – have confirmed that lower cost sewer options can provide practical alternatives. If the solids are somehow removed at the residence, for example by a septic tank (which existing homes and businesses in Manotick already have),”effluent” sewers of smaller diameter can be laid at shallower depths, often by trenching machines. Such “small bore sewers” can be considerably less expensive than conventional sewers, can be installed faster, and can result in much less site disruption.

Small bore sewers, however, are not a perfect solution. They require septic tanks, or something similar, to remove the solids. They also need more maintenance. And they can’t drain basements, as they are usually laid above basement floor levels.

Making the right choice of sewer type for any area requires a thorough assessment of alternative options. Since sewer costs usually comprise the larger part of a budget for a wastewater management system, selecting the right sewer option warrants considerable work, and requires considerable engineering and economic expertise. Manotick residents, me included, have not been persuaded that city staff (and/or their consultants) have examined and assessed all options adequately.

How and where to treat and dispose of wastewater is a related issue, and determines the end point of the sewers. That in turn impacts on the total design of the sewer system. Manotick is more than 50 km (and many pumping stations) away from the city’s ROPEC treatment plant on the Ottawa River, a huge plant that still doesn’t function adequately.

A completely different option for treating Manotick’s wastes would be to site a small treatment plant in or near the village, and avoid pumping our sewage all the way to the east end of Ottawa. In fact there already is such a small, city-owned, local plant, satisfactorily serving a sub-division within Manotick (Village Walk). Why doesn’t the city plan to use this existing treatment plant, or alternatively build a small new one on the site presently envisaged for the big, new pumping station? A good question, not yet answered to our satisfaction.

Council’s Dilemma

Pressures are strong and growing to resolve serious environmental problems in the priority areas covered by the recent petitions. Many residents are so fed up with all the city’s studies and processes that they have voted to spend big bucks, and cause the city to incur still higher expenditures, so as to start implementing the “big pipe” solution favoured by city staff.

Other residents, like me, would prefer that the city revisit the economic and technical issues promptly, taking “due diligence” to ensure that the best choice is being made for Manotick. We are all aware that the big pipe solution, once underway, will set the precedent for all future sewer extensions in our village area, and beyond.

In fact the Council’s decision re Manotick sewers will set a serious precedent for other villages in the rural areas that collectively account for some 90% of the area of amalgamated Ottawa. When villages like Kars, or North Gower, have need for central sewers, will they, too, be forced to connect by “big pipes” to Ottawa’s behemoth systems? Or will local solutions be encouraged for such local problems? Will economic and financial considerations be given proper weight?

A Possible Solution

Council definitely needs to decide how to proceed soon. If it were my decision at this late stage in the process, I would instruct city staff to quickly issue a new Request for Proposals that would invite teams of engineers and contractors to offer firm prices and schedules for designing and building wastewater systems to serve the two petition areas. I would also engage independent consultants to evaluate these proposals against the option already proposed by city staff. And I would invite local residents to review and comment at strategic times, through their community associations. Draft Terms of Reference for the RFP, and the selection and report of the independent consultants, would warrant serious community input.

Would this suggested process take time? Obviously yes, up to six months or so, if city staff were to fast track all the work and cooperate fully. But city staff could use this time to move forward with the site work, surveys and other preliminary work related to the construction stage.A bit more planning time would almost certainly result in time savings during the construction phase, which is guaranteed to be messy and annoying to all in Manotick, especially business firms.

Would there be extra costs? Maybe up front, but almost certainly less than one percent of the costs of the planned first stage of construction. Yet modest extra costs at this stage could possibly save millions of dollars in Manotick alone, if lower cost solutions are consequently selected.

Cost savings could also result in other rural areas, when they come to explore options for their own sewers, if the city finally gets the process right in Manotick.

Would Manotick residents - and other taxpayers throughout Ottawa – benefit from the transparency and accountability implicit in this possible solution? Absolutely!

Councillors, you face a difficult situation. Why not opt for a creative compromise.

Halt the “big pipe” solution now, and help us to ensure that we get a technical and economic evaluation of all the real costs for two distinct alternatives.

At that stage, I am confident that we will all see the wisdom of choosing a low cost, modern solution for solving Manotick’s wastewater problems.


Randall Denley’s column, Ottawa Citizen
April 5, 2008

$27M down the drain with Manotick pipeline plan

City councillors are set to approve next week a $27-million sewage pipeline that will serve 376 homes and businesses in Manotick. It's an astoundingly expensive misuse of old technology that's all but certain to guarantee the big expansion of the village that residents have opposed.

There's no doubt that residents in Manotick's Hillside Gardens neighbourhood and the village core need sewers, but the cost per household of a pipeline to the main sewer system has always been prohibitive. It still is, but the city is using some fancy accounting to make the big pipe plan seem reasonable.

First, the city makes $14.9 million of the cost disappear by assuming that it will be picked up by other Manotick residents who decide to hook up later, or by the owners of new houses. The only problem with this is that other people in Manotick have not yet indicated that they do want to join the sewer system. To cover this portion of the sewer bill, the city will be relying heavily on development in Minto-owned lands, the same development it is prepared to go to the Ontario Municipal Board to delay.

Having cut the nominal cost to just over $12 million, the city then assumes that half that cost should rightly be borne by other city sewer ratepayers because some of the pipes will cross intersections or pieces of city land. It seems a generous allowance. The remaining $6 million will actually be paid by the homeowners and businesses who want the sewer system. In all, the people this sewer is being built for will pay just $6 million of the project's $27-million cost. The rest will be paid by you, or maybe by someone else sometime in the future.

Including some associated road and sidewalk work, the whole cost of the Manotick project is $35.2 million, of which $29.7 million will be debt.

The worst part is, the city has a much more modern solution staring it in the face, right in Manotick. The city owns a small sewage treatment plant that serves a 70+-unit townhouse development in the village using technology from Ottawa Company Seprotech Systems. It treats sewage in a small building that looks like a garage and discharges waste water that is cleaner than the city's own sewage treatment plant's effluent, says Seprotech president Martin Hauschild. The existing plant has the capacity to serve the core of Manotick, Hauschild says. He also contends that his company could supply sewage treatment for Hillside Gardens at about half the per-house cost of the city's big pipe plan.

Seprotech has several plants in southern Ontario and communities around Toronto and is now expanding internationally, Hauschild says. In total, it has 3,000 water and wastewater plants installed around the world. The company offers a practical and relatively inexpensive

way to treat sewage in communities that are remote from central services, but Ottawa has never been interested.

City water manager Dixon Weir told a city committee this week that the Seprotech plant often fails to meet provincial effluent standards. In an interview, he said the plant has had trouble meeting standards since it opened in 2005. And yet, Seprotech had an independent consultant do a study using the city's own numbers showing no problems in 2005 or 2006. There were some problems with phosphorus amounts in late 2007.

If the technology worked for more than two years, it's odd that it would suddenly fail just before the city wanted to argue that the plant is no answer to Manotick's troubles. Seprotech says the higher discharges followed a city attempt to "test" the plant's capacity by loading it up with a truckload of sewage.

West Manotick Community Association president Brian Tansley says people in the village favoured an on-site treatment option and that a local company other than Seprotech had made a pitch to the city.   That option was rejected by city staff.

It's a bit hypocritical for the city to condemn the private company's sewage technology. The city's own sewage treatment has failed to meet provincial standards for years. The city was ordered to stop dumping contaminants from its water plants into the Ottawa River back in 2003, but is still struggling to comply with the provincial order. The fixup project, which costs $85 million, is more than six months behind schedule. City sewers downtown still discharge raw sewage into the river during heavy rains. Now councillors want to know how much it would really cost to make the system work.

But back in Manotick, the city won't even consider technology from Seprotech or its competitors, even though its discharge is cleaner than what the city itself can produce using the kind of environmentally friendly Canadian technology that governments always say they want.

As the community association's Tansley puts it, the city is rejecting technology that has "lower cost and far less environmental impact" in favour of an outmoded sewer pipe. Wednesday, councillors have one last chance to get this right.

Contact Randall Denley at 613-596-3756 or by e-mail,

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008



Email from Richard Sandes, concerned Hillside Gardens resident
Thursday April 10, 2008

Subject:  Manotick’s sewers on hold

I sent the following email to Mr. Doucet.  Some important questions that should be put to the city include the following:

1)  how many Hillside Gardens residents actually have failing septic systems?  Does anyone know really?  As a Hillside Gardens resident, my septic system has never been tested and I'm almost certain that most other septic systems within the affected area have never been tested as well.  So this begs the question, how does the city know that Hillside Gardens is in a desperate situation?

2) how many Hillside Gardens residents actually plan to link up to the city's sewer system in the near or distant future once it's installed ?  Nobody seems to know because nobody has bothered to do a proper survey.  I would suggest that at least 40% to 50 % will not link to the city sewer system in the near future for a variety of reasons mostly financial.  I certainly plan to continue using my septic system until it breaks down as it is very cost efficient and seems to work fine.

The city needs to determine how many residents within Hillside Gardens will actually benefit from any form of treatment system?


----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Sandes   
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:04 AM
Subject: Manotick’s sewers on hold

Dear Mr. Doucet,

As a resident of Hillside Gardens, which is one of the affected areas in Manotick, I pleased to see that at least one of our city councillors is asking all the right questions.   Don't forget that 28% (approximately 65 residents) of Hillside Gardens residents voted against extension of sewer services.  Many of us have no plans to link up to city sewers even if they are brought to Manotick.   Our septic systems work perfectly fine and very are cost effective and environmentally friendly.  In fact, I don't think the city even knows how many septic systems are not working correctly in Hillside Gardens.  The residents who are complaining have known about the problem since the early 1970's and have done nothing about it, hoping the city will pick up the tab.  There is also the speculative gang of residents who voted for sewers hoping their property values would increase.  I think the number of residents that would actually link into the city sewers is far less then the city anticipates.  Many of us are on social assistance or fixed pensions.  We just can't afford it.

I am against the extension of sewer services to Manotick until there is an extensive study to determine if there is a more cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative.  I don't believe this has happened.  

Richard Sandes
Concerned Hillside Gardens resident





HERE’S THE BACKGROUND: Minutes from Environmental Services Committee Meetings: 2003 and 2005 (relevant paragraphs highlighted in yellow – comments in red)







Excerpts from the Environmental Services Committee,   2003


Residents of Manotick expressed concern that bringing central services will result in excessive Village growth which may ruin its rural Village character.   The approved Official Plan allows for some intensification in the Core, mainly to encompass a vibrant mix of retail, service and specialty services with a strong residential component.  It also sets out limits on population growth

The first Open House was held on 25 April 2002 and provided the public with the opportunity to discuss the work in progress, begin a discussion of the planning, technical and financial implication of this project.

The second set of Open Houses was held on 18 September 2002 and 21 October 2002. Costing and phasing of central services was presented.  Topics outlined on information panels included: Project Background; Total Estimated Costs; Service Delivery Alternatives; Timing and Next Steps.

Approximately 685 residents attended the Open Houses in September and October and over 400 comment sheets were received.  The attendees' greatest concerns pertained to cost of central services and suspicions that the process is being driven by development rather than real community needs. Without considerable funding from governments, it is clear that the majority of respondents do not want central services.  There is however, some local support for central services in Hillside Gardens and the Core Area since these areas already have central water services. 

The 3 implementation approaches are:

Alternative A

The first alternative would be to take no further action until:

·         the community or portions of the community (such as one or both of the priority areas) initiates a request to the City of Ottawa to begin the project;

·         Senior government funding becomes available to make the project more affordable;

·         or a public health or significant environmental problem forces the community to reconsider project implementation.

The conceptual design is now complete. The project would not proceed further until one or more of the above conditions occurs

Alternative B

This alternative would be to undertake a community-wide vote to allow all property owners to express their views on whether they wish to participate in the project.

This approach: could identify additional priority areas that could be accommodated in the detailed design stage; would ensure a direct say by all landowners in Manotick; and would allow the City to view the desirability of the overall project and make decisions on the need to revisit the Official Plan process for the areas where servicing is not desired.  This approach could result in a general rejection of the overall project, denying areas that may have greater needs from proceeding with the early phases

Alternative C ….This is what we actually got…THIS OPTION RANKED  3rd OUT OF 4 (see chart below)

This alternative is to immediately undertake a petition of the property owners in the two priority areas of Hillside Gardens and the Core.  This alternative would require only the introduction of the sanitary sewers in these two areas since central water services are already available.  Other areas would not proceed without a similar petition.

This alternative: would add sanitary sewer services in those areas where the greatest need has historically been demonstrated; would reflect the areas where some support for the project has been expressed; meets Provincial Policy which discourages the installation of one piped service without the other; implements the approved Official Plan policy to: “make every effort to secure the immediate connection of priority areas … to the central wastewater treatment and disposal system”;  would allow new development to proceed as permitted by the Official Plan; and would stage the asking of the question; if there is no support for even the priority areas, the review of the balance of the phases would be unnecessary.

This alternative would seek direction from the local community prior to any further work being done and could be based upon the criteria for support previously used by the Local Improvement Act.  This requires the support of 66.7% of the landowners representing at least 50% of the assessment value of the area to be serviced.  Some residents have argued that the vote of only part of the community would deny an early voice to others who could eventually be affected by the project.

During the question and answer session, a member of the Manotick Community Association asked that a fourth alternative (Alternative D) be considered by residents, this alternative was a revision to Alternative A as follows:

Alternative D  (The option with the most votes, but NOT the option chosen by city staff)

This alternative would have the City:

Complete the “Rural Wastewater Management Study” analysis of alternative servicing technologies; complete a definitive study of health risks (drinking water and surface water) in Manotick ; revise the Manotick Village Servicing Master Plan and Trunk services Concept Study, including re-costing for servicing 2,000 homes, improved financing options, and alternatives to the water tower

The City would take no further action until:

The community or portions of the community (such as one or both of the priority areas) initiates a petitions to the City of Ottawa; senior government funding becomes available to make the project more affordable; a public health or significant environmental problem results in reconsideration of the project implementation

On 25 comment sheets residents marked no preference, more than one preference or changed the alternative. These 25 comment sheets were considered spoiled for the purposes of the tabulation.  The following table outlines the responses from the Open House regarding the Alternatives:



Core/Hillside Gds.

Outside areas

No location indicated


68 (27%)





24 (10%)





26 (10%)





106 (43%)





25 (10%)






51 (21%)

161 (65%)

37 (15%)

(Totals do not add up to 100% because of rounding)

The results from the comment sheets ALSO indicated a preference for Alternative D implementation approach. 




Excerpts from the

Environmental Services Commitee,  2005



The approval of the Village of Manotick Secondary Plan (Local Official Plan Amendment # 3 and Regional Official Plan Amendment # 22, adopted in the new City of Ottawa June 2001) permits a gradual, long-term conversion of the community from private individual services (well and septic) to central water and wastewater systems. 

The Village of Manotick Servicing Master Plan and Trunk Services Concept Study was undertaken to develop cost and phasing estimates for the extension of central services throughout the Village of Manotick in accordance with the preferred servicing concept which has evolved over the past thirteen years.

The Study was the subject of the 10 June 2003 Report to the Environmental Services Committee and Council (Ref No:  ACS2003-DEV-POL-0031).  That Report had the following recommendations:

"That the Environmental Services Committee recommend Council approve the Village of Manotick Servicing Master Plan and Trunk Services Concept Study Report and the following action plan:

1.                  That a City Staff will work with the  Manotick Master Plan Working Group to address outstanding issues coming out of this study.

2.                  Work with the residents and businesses in Hillside Gardens and the Core Area to determine whether or not sufficient support exists to have either or both of these areas serviced as outlined in this study.

3.                  Proceed with the detailed design for the trunk wastewater services and  priority areas of Hillside Gardens and the Core, if a successful indication of interest is received from either or both of those areas."


At the Committee meeting, representatives of the Manotick Community Association came forward and expressed concerns, primarily regarding the level of understanding regarding the project in the Manotick community.  They recognised that this is a complex project and considered that an additional community led level of effort was required in order to ensure a clear understanding of project rationale, objectives  and in particular the amount and means by which costs would be assessed to property owners.

The Manotick Community Association also stated that they considered that "alternative" or "innovative" technologies for wastewater collection, and in particular small bore effluent sewers, offered considerable opportunities for cost savings to the residents who will be paying the initial capital cost of the project.  However, it is acknowledged that  the City does not have specific design guidelines for all possible alternative servicing technologies.  On-going initiatives such as preparation of a new City Sewer Design Guideline as well as a survey of alternative technology installations in Ontario underway in association with  the City's development of a management strategy for rural services will provide some perspective on the possible use of alternative technologies.

Following discussion, the Committee approved the Servicing Master Plan and Trunk Services Concept Study Report and the following amended recommendations:

1.                  That City Staff will work with the  Manotick Master Plan Working Group to address outstanding issues coming out of this study. 

2.                  That the Environmental Services Committee defer Recommendations 2 and 3 of Environmental Services Committee Report, ACS2003-DEV_POL-0031 dated May 22 2003 until the design guidelines for alternative technologies is complete with assurance that budget funding for design remain in the budget as shown it the 2003 Budget document.


The motion was unanimously approved by City Council without additional debate at their meeting on 25 June  2003.


Community Consultation:

Following the direction of the Environmental Services Committee, City staff worked with the Manotick Community Association and their Central Servicing Sub-Committee which was established in November 2003.  The objective of the Sub-Committee was for its members to develop a comprehensive understanding of the project, and then present issues to its Association in a manner which it considered would facilitate community understanding of the project, and in particular the project costs and process.

Staff provided the Servicing Sub-Committee with information as requested, met with the Committee Chair frequently and attended Sub-Committee meetings between November 2003 and October 2004.

The Sub-Committee completed its work and issued a final report dated October 2004.  As stated in the final report "The Central Servicing Committee believes that this report will enable homeowners in the Manotick area to develop an informed opinion on the viability of the Manotick Central Servicing Project."  The Sub-Committee report was presented at a public meeting organized by the Manotick Community Association on 2 December 2004.  Staff and approximately 50 people attended the meeting. Manotick has 5500 people…

With finalization of the community-led investigation and report, Staff consider that the direction of Environmental Services Committee to work with the community group to address outstanding issues has been fulfilled.  The city counci’s direction was NOT fulfilled by this action.

Alternative Technology Guidelines:

The City has now completed the City of Ottawa Sewer Design Guidelines, which were finalized in November 2004 WHERE IS THIS DOCUMENT?  

 It should be noted that it is not practical to include detailed design guidelines for all possible alternative-servicing methodologies. However, Section 1.3 addresses the possibility of use of alternative technologies and notes that each such possibility must be considered on its own merits. Because of the number of different alternative technologies and in some cases the proprietary/patented nature of their components, it is up the designer to make a recommendation on the proposed methods, standards and material to be used. Justification of implementation feasibility and economics as well as engineering, environmental, operational, reliability, risk and maintenance issues are to be considered.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) Guidelines for the Design of Sanitary Sewage Systems (that form a part of the City of Ottawa Sewer Design Guidelines) addresses alternative technologies.  For any proposed system to receive necessary MOE approvals, it must conform to these guidelines.  The City continues to complete a range of initiatives related to rural servicing. 

In 2003, the City undertook a survey of all available alternative wastewater treatment, collection and disposal systems as well as a detailed investigation of seven installations of such systems across the Province

The survey included discussions with system owners to develop further understanding of the operation and reliability of such systems.  Such surveys have been completed in the past, and the City remains committed to being aware of and understanding new technologies and any opportunities such technologies might provide to the City of Ottawa.

As the scope of the survey of alternative wastewater systems was focussed on the management and sustainability of privately serviced areas in the City, it did not specifically address the use of such systems to provide service to large populations such as in the Village of Manotick.  WAS THIS DOCUMENT MADE PUBLIC?   If the city undertook this survey the same year it was involved in deliberations over Manotick’s waste treatment, then why wouldn’t it address the use for the Village of Manotick?  To what purpose OTHER than for Manotick would such a survey have been put in 2003?

That having been said, the evidence of the case studies demonstrated that in Ontario, the application of alternative technologies is very limited and has only been used to service small populations (e.g. from a PeatLand effluent treatment system serving 17 homes and a daycare built in 2000 in Ohsweken to a small bore sewer system serving 317 homes built in 2000 in the Village of Wardsville).

It is therefore Staff's position that the direction provided by Environmental Services Committee has been fulfilled, and that:

·         There is adequate documentation for the City to consider and design alternative systems if deemed appropriate;  WHERE IS THIS “ADEQUATE”DOCUMENTATION? IT HAS NOT BEEN MADE PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE AFTER REPEATED REQUESTS.

·         That such consideration has been given to the potential for use of alternative systems including small bore sewers in Manotick, including in particular the priority area of Hillside Gardens; CITY STAFF ADMITTED, ABOVE, THAT IT DID NOT SPECIFICALLY ADDRESS MANOTICK IN THE REVIEW

·         That a small bore sewer system would represent a lower level of service than that provided to others connected to the City's central sewer system (owners still maintain a septic tank) This  amounts to little more than an unsubstantiated assertion that central sewer is superior SEE APPENDIX G FOR A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW.

·         That no widespread and significant opportunity for capital cost savings would result from implementation of a small bore sewer systems to service parts or all of Manotick.  This is an untested assertion since no attempt was ever made at this point to obtain a proposal from the private sector for design/build/operate costs on any alternative for Manotick. 

·         That there is no comparable (e.g. in Ontario, similar population, combination of retrofit servicing and new servicing, etc.) documentation of the long term life cycle costs (capital, operating and reliability) of such systems which would provide adequate advice to the City of Ottawa, in comparison to the City's understanding and experience with conventional servicing; Evidence does exist as to the capital and operating costs. As for reliability, that can be dealt with through negoatiations with suppliers, etc. Reliability has not concerned city staff on matters relating to the historic sewer (for example the Richmond-Munster Forcemain). 

·         That detailed design processes may identify specific locations where some form of alternative system, and most likely effluent pumping, will offer a cost effective means to service specific low lying developments adjacent to the Rideau River.

It remains Staff's position that conventional sewer systems are the most appropriate servicing solution for Manotick.  Also, that there is not significant opportunity for capital cost savings and some uncertainty regarding long term life cycle costs associated with the suggestion that a small bore sewer system would provide significant benefits to the community.

Once again, an unsubstantiated assertion by city staff.  Repeated requests for a public accounting of the facts that led to this assertion have not been provided. The lack of transparency in this important matter makes the public suspicious – especially in light of so many of the  private sector representatives claiming that alternatives will be significantly cheaper. (NOTE: See the attached comments from the councilor and the Mayor of Wardsville, where a small bore system was chosen over the big pipe.) Proceeding with Design in Advance of a Local Improvement Petition (AND WITHOUT DIRECTION FROM CITY COUNCIL?)

This report recommends that the City proceed with the design of trunk services and local services in the identified priority areas of Manotick, at an estimated cost of $900,000.  A certified Local Improvement Petition has not been received by the City to demonstrate the community's agreement to accept the costs of such a project. 

Staff have made the recommendation to proceed based on the following:

  • The Village of Manotick Secondary Plan which forms a part of the City's Official Plan states that "Council shall make every effort to secure the immediate connection of priority areas within the Village";
  • Members of the community have expressed a level of concern regarding cost issues which can only be addressed through detailed design processes;
  • While there are currently very limited external funding mechanisms available to the City or directly to residents to assist with the cost of the project, such conditions can change.  Finalization of the design of the first stages of a long term servicing plan would provide the City with a firm and ready project which could be put forward should external funding become available; and
  • Funding for design is available in existing accounts.


There are no direct environmental implications resulting from approval of the Recommendations of this report.  Nonsense. Let’s compare the record of ROPEC against a tertiary treatment facility like the one in Manotick right now.  For example, read the Riverkeeper River Report, published in 2006, that shows ROPEC as the 2nd worst municipal water polluter in the Province (and 5th in the nation).  Our nation’s capital can do better than to decommission one of the few tertiary treatment plants in the Ottawa river watershed in favour of shipping Manotick’s untreated waste to ROPEC – and pay an extra 20 Million for the privilege!

Approval of the Recommendations of this report will further the eventual servicing of the Village of Manotick, removing septic waste from the community and improving local groundwater and surface waters including water quality in Rideau River.


There are no direct rural implications resulting from approval of the Recommendations of this report. Nonsense again.  Everyone knows that the  implications resulting from the approval of the recommendations of this report are both direct and profound.

Approval of the Recommendations of this report will further the eventual servicing of the Village of Manotick.  Servicing is a prerequisite of many of the community's objectives as stated in the Manotick Secondary Plan, including development of a Village core with a vibrant mix of retail, service and specialty services with a strong residential component. There is nothing in the above statement that does not apply to the use of small diameter gravity collection to a local wastewater treatment facility in the village.