Beginning with its founding in 1764, Amherst, like many Canadian communities, discharged its municipal wastewater untreated to nearby watercourses. For many years, the town’s raw sanitary effluent discharged to a series of outfalls along the Amherst Marsh, with the flow proceeding to the LaPlanche River and ultimately the Bay of Fundy. Efforts to address the town’s wastewater treatment requirements extend back to 1979 with the completion of a regional sewerage study by H.J. Porter and Associates Limited, a Halifax-based firm that subsequently merged with Dillon. Founded on the recommendations of two follow-up Dillon evaluations in 1989 and 1993, the Town completed several capital projects to consolidate wastewater flows and acquire property in advance of the construction of a centralized treatment facility.
In 2004, with support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Environmental Fund, Dillon completed an updated review of the preferred treatment technology recommendations made in the 1993 predesign study; secondary treatment using aerated lagoons along with engineered wetlands. Within the 2004 report, the Town identified its design objectives for the wastewater treatment facility as follows:
- Specific consideration of new, “leading-edge” methods, acknowledging the unique marshlands context of the selected treatment facility site.
- Development of a management strategy, emphasizing the importance of generator education, industrial and commercial user audits, source control (including pollution prevention) responsibility, by-law development and enforcement and long-term sustainability.
- Establishment of a successful “best-practices” integrated wastewater management approach to be used by similar-sized municipal units in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada, regardless of selected treatment technology.
Following Dillon’s preparation of the detailed design and tender documents and the selection of Brycon Construction Limited as the general contractor, development of the $11 million facility was initiated in June 2010. Commissioning was completed over a two month period with the official opening taking place in October 2012.
This project received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Engineering from Engineers Nova Scotia in 2014.