Project Overview

The City of Portage la Prairie is upgrading its wastewater treatment plant to meet new environmental regulations. In addition to conforming to new provincial regulations, the project plays an essential role in maintaining the region’s economic capacity. The completion of the Upgrade will allow the City of Portage la Prairie and the surrounding municipality to retain major industrial facilities by providing the necessary infrastructure to allow the facilities to continue their current operations and allowing for additional growth in the future.

Project Description and Rationale

The City of Portage la Prairie operates a complex treatment facility, known as the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF), which provides preliminary and secondary treatment, as well as disinfection, of municipal wastewater from the City and some small surrounding residential and commercial areas located in the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie, as well as final treatment of pretreated industrial wastewater from three major industries. wpcf-2

The City of Portage la Prairie is required to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility to conform to new regulations put in place by the Province of Manitoba. The most significant impact of these new regulations on the Facility operation is the requirement to reduce nutrients in the effluent discharged to the Assiniboine River. The Province of Manitoba has recently enacted the Water Quality Standards, Objectives and Guidelines Regulation to limit total phosphorus and total nitrogen concentrations in the effluent of wastewater treatment facilities throughout Manitoba, but primarily focusing on facilities discharging to streams flowing into Lake Winnipeg. This is part of a provincial strategy to reduce nutrients flowing into Lake Winnipeg, thus reducing algae growth and preventing eutrophication of the Lake

The Province has further stipulated that processes used to achieve these limits be sustainable, rely on biological processes to the extent possible and minimize the use of chemicals. The Regulation includes a water quality standard for the best practical technology for beneficial use of valuable resources such as nutrients, organic matter and energy contained within biosolids and sludge.  In addition to these major components, a number of process and facility upgrades have been identified as part of the proposed WPCF upgrade project. These will improve the reliability of the overall facility by upgrading or replacing aging or obsolete infrastructure or additional components for improved maintenance and operating compliance reliability to the facilities which are already in place.

The most significant components of the facility upgrade include the following:

  • Low Rate Anaerobic Reactor (“LRAR”) to pre-treat McCain and Nutri-Pea wastewater;
  • Industrial clarifier to reduce solids in the industrial streams when pre-treatment systems are in upset;
  • Phosphorus Recovery (phosphorus reduction) system on industrial streams;
  • De-ammonification (nitrogen reduction system) on industrial streams;
  • Chemical feed systems for Sequencing Batch Reactors (“SBRs”);
  • Tertiary Filters;
  • Anaerobic Digester;
  • Biosolids Storage Tanks (“BSTs”); and
  • Biogas Utilization Facility.
Extensive Research

Extensive research by City of Portage la Prairie staff and expert independent consultants has determined that a public-private partnership or P3 under a design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) is the best option and recommended approach to upgrading the WPCF.  We are confident this option represents the best value to the City of Portage la Prairie and its residents.

Financial Affordability

Construction of the new plant will cost in excess of $100 million.  The City is currently working to secure funding agreements with the Federal and Provincial Governments.  This provides an alternative way to finance required infrastructure that the City cannot deliver on its own.

The City of Portage la Prairie will retain ownership of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the natural resources coming in and out of the plant and in keeping with past practice, utility rates will continue to be set by the Public Utility Board.


No job losses will be incurred as a result of the project. All Wastewater Treatment Plant employees will be offered employment under the same terms as their existing collective agreement either with the City of Portage la Prairie or the new plant operator.

Reports and Links

**Note: Certain documents may be withheld due to their ability to effect the competitive procurement process. These documents will be made public upon award of the Project Co.

Date Link & Description
Sept 12, 2016 Report to Council recommending proceeding with Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades as a Public/Private Partnership using the Design Build Finance Operate and Maintain model (DBFOM). Approved via Resolution 134/2016
August 2016  Summary P3 Business Case, The City of Portage la Prairie engaged Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. to develop a Business Case to explore the quantitative and qualitative aspects of its Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade project with the key purpose of identifying the procurement and funding methods that will provide the best value for money to the City.
March 29, 2016 Report to Council recommending authorization to sign the financial agreement for the Business Case Development. Approved via Resolution 41/16
Sept 14, 2015 Report to Council recommending acceptance the Wastewater Treatment- Nutrient Reduction Functional Design Report as prepared by AECOM Engineering, dated July 2015.  Approved via Resolution 159/15
August 10, 2015 Report to Council regarding assistance for P3 Business Case Analysis and related services. Approved via Resolution 139/15
June 9, 2015 Report to Council regarding the Financial and Business Care Advisor for Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade. Approved via Resolution 106/15

Federal and Provincial regulations

The federal and provincial government determine sewage treatment regulations. The provincial government is responsible for issuing the City’s operating permit.  The following files provide background information about the new regulations for sewage treatment:

News Articles and information

Toronto Star – Why P3s are best for infrastructure projects: Sears
Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships – P3 Myth Busters