Industry waste discharges in Abbotsford rising dramatically

The increase in industrial discharges of waste over the last two years was equivalent to that generated by 35,000 residents.

Industrial discharges are putting more pressure on the  Abbotsford-Mission Water & Sewer Commission's JAMES Plant.

Industrial discharges are putting more pressure on the Abbotsford-Mission Water & Sewer Commission's JAMES Plant.

Staff from the Abbotsford Mission Water & Sewer Commission (WSC) have met with local businesses after finding that increased waste discharges over the last two years was equivalent to 35,000 new residents and could result in the sewer system not meeting provincial guidelines if action is not taken.

There has been a significant increase in the amount of biochemical organic demand (BOD) discharge seen at the JAMES Wastewater Treatment Plant over the last two years, 80 per cent of which is due to local industry, a staff report notes.

The increased BOD has reduced the ability of the plant to remove ammonia from the waste, which staff warn could see the system fail to comply with requirements for effluent discharge and accelerate the need for a third trickling filtering system currently scheduled to be added for $15 million in 2033.

Of around 30 “extra-strength industries,” the WSC has identified six that had recorded the largest increases over the last two years. All but one are food processors, although their output varies from fruit to poultry to dairy products.

Staff have already met with five of them, all of which say they “are expecting significant growth,” according to the report. One anticipates a reduction in discharges, while the others said they would review the processes.

Currently, the WSC bills such businesses at an increased rate to reflect the amount of waste they contribute to the system, but there is no system in place to recoup capital costs for system upgrades necessitated by more demand from industry.

In their report, staff note that further increases would require an upgrade, which would likely trigger a review of industry waste discharge rates.

The Joint Shared Services Committee is set to hear about the situation at a meeting next Monday.