It's been seven months since the $110 million funding announcement was made, for the new Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility to be built just north of Niverville and earlier this month the engineers behind the project presented their preliminary designs of the plant and pipelines to the public.   

What began three and a half years ago, is now moving forward quickly. Back in December 2019, four municipalities in the southeast announced plans for a regional wastewater treatment plant.  Hanover, Tache, Ritchot, and Niverville entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to create the Red-Seine-Rat Wastewater Cooperative (RSRWC), with the goal of creating a regional wastewater collection system and facility that would enhance wastewater management to meet new environmental standards, as well as ensure affordable utility rates for ratepayers in all four municipalities.  

Then in August 2022, both provincial and federal funding came through for RSRWC, with $21 million coming from the federal government, $18 million from the province, and the remaining $71 million coming from the four municipalities, bringing the total of this project to $110 million dollars.  

It took another half a year to complete the research and Jacobs Solutions, the engineers behind this project, went public at an inter-municipal open house at the beginning of March 2023.  

Barry Williamson, a senior project manager and engineer with Jacobs says,  

“It's more of a conceptual design at this stage. The purpose of the open house was really to get the information out to the public early on in the process. This is one of the largest infrastructure projects that will be occurring in the region and moreover, it is to, you know, promote the collaborative approach that has been occurring between the three municipalities and the town of Niverville in how they have all come together to pool their resources and you know, be innovators in procuring or developing a regional wastewater treatment plant which will potentially be shutting down 12 or more lagoon systems to treat all of their wastewater through mechanical means, and so the open house was really to get some early information out to the public, just in case, you know, people were starting to wonder what's going on.” 

Williamson says, releasing the preliminary designs was necessary to help implement the vision of the Red-Seine-Rat Water Cooperative.  

Find an explanation of the RWWTF here.  

When it comes to what kind of construction work residents in southeast Manitoba will notice, Williamson says, they will be constructing nine lift stations near the nine communities and their lagoons.  

“So, with each of the community’s wastewater already being discharged into their respective lagoons, it makes sense to place these lift stations in those areas so that we're not adding more infrastructure than necessary.”  

Once the WWTF is completed and the nearly 90 kilometers of pipeline in the ground, all wastewater from the nine lagoons will be pumped through the lift stations and through the pipelines, to the main facility north of Niverville.  

Williamson notes all pipes will be buried infrastructure and won’t be noticeable to the public.  

“The pipes will be 8 to 10 feet underground. They have to be buried below the frost line. Just like we wouldn’t notice underground wastewater infrastructure now, we might see the odd indication of a valve stem or something with a marker sticking out of the ground, so that the people that maintain this know where to find stuff. But for the average person driving by, it's not going to stand out.”

WWTF Conceptual designs by JacobsWWTF conceptual designs timeline by Jacobs Solutions

Williams continues, “There's a lot of mechanical parts that need to be added and they'll be in the area where the construction is occurring and there may be modifications to some of the existing underground infrastructure of pipes that come into the lagoons.” 

He says, “You may see the pipeline lengths (laying above ground) and the backhoes that are putting the pipe in, digging the trenches for the pipes at crossings. We're looking at more directional drilling, so less intrusive type of construction where they directionally drill a lot of the pipework.”

WWTF conceptual designs by Jacobs Solutions WWTF conceptual designs Indigenous Engagement

Williamson and RSRC have been in communication with Manitoba Metis Federation throughout the process and will continue to be in consultation with their membership as well as providing technical support.  

“Because of the project is still in its infancy stage, we are accepting any support from them that they are willing to share.  

Williamson has been impressed with the unity of the three municipalities and one town and how they have been able to work together on this project.  

“This is going to be one of the first regional wastewater systems in the province. They're going to be leaders in this type of approach, to bring communities together to address a common need, which is there's always going to be wastewater generated somewhere, somehow and, you know, with the collaborative approach of the various communities that can be done economically with cost sharing and what have you, I think this is fantastic for southeastern Manitoba.” 

He says, once the project is completed and everything is working as planned, there will be other communities, not just in Manitoba but across Canada reaching out and learning from this cooperative.  

“And I think that that is just a really good thing. Besides the mechanical treatment and the conveyance system and the design, I think just that the vision that this group came up with should be celebrated.” 

Williamson says, there will be more public open houses over the coming three months.