Residential taxes subsidizing transport/treatment of toxic leachate

March 5, 2012 (Ottawa) –  Waste Management of Canada Ltd. (WM) has been paying a rate of $.65/cubic meter that the city charges industry for separate source wastewater disposal, to dispose of hundreds of millions of litres of contaminated wastewater (leachate) from its Carp Road landfill via the city sewer system. In 2012, residential ratepayers will pay $1.64/cubic meter, more than double the WM rate, for the same service. Each year, WM sends over 275 million litres of leachate through the city sewer system. The load on the sewer system will further increase if WM receives approval for a planned 6.5 million cubic meter expansion of the Carp Rd. Landfill.

In February 2012, Ottawa city council approved a six percent increase in residential water and sewer rates and committed to increase those rates by a whopping 74% over the next 10 years. City Council did commit to “study” non-residential rates charged to industry, such as WM, to ensure they reflect the true cost of disposal.

“Residents of Stittsville and Kanata have to live with the negative impacts of having a megalandfill in their community. These same taxpayers are subsidizing WM to transport and treat contaminated wastewater using city services,” says Harold Moore, a Don’t Let Ottawa Go to Waste (DLOGTW) volunteer. “City Council needs to address the rate charged to industry for separate source wastewater sewer services. Given the planned increases to the residential rate and if there are no comparable increases to the rate charged to industry, by 2021 WM’s rate for sewer services will be just 24 percent of the residential rate. In our opinion, and given the growing stresses on our city infrastructure, WM should fully treat all leachate at its own onsite facility rather than use City infrastructure as an easy and cheap way to dispose of contaminated landfill leachate.”

Leachate is created when rainwater filters down through a landfill and mixes with organic and inorganic compounds contained in the landfill. Typically leachate is heavily contaminated with concentrations of a variety of chemicals including ammonia, nitrogen, chloride, solvents and heavy metals. Groundwater contamination from leachate leaking offsite of the landfill is an ongoing issue at the Carp Rd. landfill. Around 2001, WM paid for the construction of a forced main to carry leachate from the landfill on Carp Rd. to the city sewer infrastructure at the intersection of Kittiwake Dr. and Carp Rd. The leachate is then carried across the city to be treated and disposed of at the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre – Wastewater Treatment Plant in the east end of Ottawa.

Last year, WM put forward a proposal to “pre” treat leachate at its Carp Rd. landfill to dilute the concentrations of certain chemicals in order to meet city over-strength wastewater regulations prior to releasing even more wastewater into the sewer system.

In January 2011, Waste Management launched an environmental assessment process to seek approval for a proposed 6.5 million cubic meter expansion of its landfill on Carp Rd. As part of the environmental assessment, Waste Management continues to identify the use of Ottawa’s waste water treatment facility as its preferred option for final leachate processing for any new landfill.