Ottawa Citizen - April 11, 2008
‘Pilloried’ firm seeks apology from city
Officials ‘misrepresented facts’ about Manotick waste-treatment
plant: Seprotech president
The Ottawa Citizen
BY PATRICK DARE
The president of an Ottawa waste-treatment company is demanding a
public apology from the City of Ottawa over disparaging comments
senior city officials made about his company’s plant in Manotick.
Martin Hauschild, president of Seprotech Systems, says "city
officials have misrepresented the facts" by publicly suggesting the
Seprotech wastewater plant used at the Manotick community of Village
Walk isn’t up to par.
On March 31, at the agricultural and rural affairs committee,
Dixon Weir, director of water and wastewater services, and Wayne
Newell, director of infrastructure services, said Manotick needs
full city sewer service and smaller local wastewater solutions lack
a good record of performance.
Mr. Weir said the Seprotech system handling waste from 68 units
in Village Walk had discharged effluent that is out of compliance
with strict Ministry of the Environment standards in 13 of the last
36 months, including every month of this year.
"It is struggling," said Mr. Weir, speaking in support of a
$27-million project that will see Manotick waste pumped to the
city’s sewer system and to the huge Pickard waste treatment centre.
Mr. Weir said the small plant’s discharge of phosphorous and ammonia
exceeded provincial standards.
But Mr. Hauschild, who was travelling abroad when the remarks
were made, said he has not been contacted by the city with regard to
any performance problems at the plant and he finds the claims of the
city’s engineering managers "highly suspect."
Mr. Hauschild has been well known for his criticism of the city
in its costly handling of the Munster waste problem, where a small
community had a sewage pipeline built by the city to handle waste.
He said it’s well known that the city’s engineers are "hellbent on
putting pipelines in," rather than using new technology to treat
waste on-site, and so he isn’t chasing city business.
But he said to have his home municipality cast doubt on his
company’s technology is seriously damaging to the company’s
"The last thing we need is to be pilloried in our home
community," he said, noting that customers could easily get the
impression that the firm, which has 3,000 installations of its
technology in the field, is not valued by the people of Ottawa.
Apology: ‘Damage done’
In a letter to Mayor Larry O’Brien, Mr. Hauschild says: "There
are complex politics surrounding development in and around Manotick,
but it is entirely unacceptable that an Ottawa-based environmental
technology company should be caught in the middle of this."
He goes on to say: "City officials have misled you, council and
the public in all matters surrounding the facility. The plant
supplied to Manotick has been operating flawlessly from the time it
For many years, Manotick has been in the throes of a divisive
debate over how to handle its waste. The core of the village and
Hillside Gardens, a residential neighbourhood, are seeing failing
septic systems and many people are pleading for action for a problem
that fouls the air.
Some people have argued the Seprotech system, which uses a
technology known as P-03, could be used to handle the problem. But
the city’s managers told councillors they were having trouble
keeping it operating for Village Walk.
At the March 31 meeting, councillors voted to authorize the
big-pipe approach, in total a $33-million project that will also see
replacement of 40year-old failing water pipes. The decision goes to
city council April 23.
Mr. Hauschild said the city has a contractor operating the
Manotick Seprotech plant at only 16-per-cent capacity. He said he
was told by the plant operator that the city conducted a test of the
plant’s capacity, discharging large volumes of sewage from a pumper
truck into the system, but without adjusting flows and chemicals,
which created a failure and a discharge of sewage into the Rideau
Mr. Hauschild said he hopes to meet with Mr. O’Brien and city
manager Kent Kirkpatrick to get a public apology from the city
within two weeks.
Mr. O’Brien’s spokesman, Pat Uguccioni, said the mayor has asked
Mr. Weir to address Mr. Hauschild’s concerns.
"The damage has been done. They need to set this straight," said
Mr. Hauschild. In his letter to the mayor, the businessman wrote:
"We will be very forceful in seeking redress."
-The Ottawa Citizen-
Because of the
superior performance of the "Rotating Biological Contactor", (RBC),
wastewater treatment process, (as used by Seprotech Systems, Inc.),
versus the "Activated Sludge" treatment process, (the type
used by the City of Ottawa),
the Comptroller General of the United States,
as far back as
1975, sent a Report to US Congress, stipulating that any
consideration of the Activated Sludge system must be accompanied by
a costing of the RBC treatment system, if any federal funding was
See Report excerpts
Report to Congress
by the Comptroller General of the United
Sludge Sewage Treatment Plants
RBC Sewage Treatment Plants
In May 1975, the Comptroller General presented to the U.S.
Congress a report dealing with a program to reduce the costs of
wastewater treatment plants that are funded by the government.
The report included a value analysis which compared the costs of
an activated sludge process with an rotating biological contactor (RBC)
process for a flow of 4.5 million GPD.
The conclusions were that
the RBC option would result in capital savings of 44.2% plus annual
operation, maintenance and replacement savings of $43,600 per annum.
The report said:
rotating biological contactor process utilizes oxygen from the
air without the need for mechanical aeration mixing as required
in the activated sludge process. If rotating biological
contactors are utilized, a significant number of process
components required in the activated sludge process can be
eliminated. These include the aeration tanks, blowers, blower
building, and large quantities of piping. In addition, power
consumption would be reduced and overall operating costs
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