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Sanitary lagoons in Amherstburg transformed into new wetland with trails

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Amherstburg is showcasing the completion and transformation of the former Edgewater sanitary lagoon system into a vibrant wetland ecosystem now called Golfview Park, Wetlands & Trails.

Officials said the area near Golfview Drive and Linwood Street will provide residents with enhanced recreational opportunities and foster biodiversity in the region.

"The transformation of the Edgewater Lagoon system into the Golfview Park, Wetlands & Trails represents a significant milestone for our community," said Mayor Michael Prue. "Not only does this project demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability, but it also provides our residents a new recreational space to enjoy nature and engage with their surroundings."

The Edgewater lagoons were built in the early 1980s to support local sanitary treatment needs and accommodate future growth, and have significantly transitioned as part of the town’s commitment to environmental stewardship and community enhancement.

With the recent expansion of the Amherstburg Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWTTP), it was determined that redirecting flows from the Edgewater Lagoons to the newly constructed AWWTP would optimize resources and create additional development capacity.

In light of the decision, the former lagoon system was identified as an ideal candidate for conversion into a wetland, which would provide residents with ecological benefits and recreational amenities.

The wetland conversion project includes the creation of 1.5 kilometres of new walking trails, offering residents a serene setting to explore and appreciate the diverse wildlife that will now inhabit the area. 

The sanitary lagoons in Amherstburg have transformed into new wetland with trails. May 31, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News London)

Amherstburg’s Manager of Engineering Todd Hewitt explained the former lagoon operated until 2019 when it was decommissioned as part of the Edgewater Diversion Project, which diverted sewage from the lagoon to the main wastewater treatment on Sandwich Street South.

“It's the only one in Essex County and there's very few actually within the province that have converted their sewage lagoons to a wetland,” Hewitt said. “You get back here and you kind of forget that you're still in the town. You feel like you're out in the country for a walk.”

Hewitt noted the lagoon used to be a three cell system but as part of the diversion project, officials incorporated what they refer to as a “wet weather cell” that can hold 25,000 cubic metres of sewage to contend with future storms.

“So when we have heavy rains or potential flooding events, it gives the opportunity for us to continue to pump that water into that wet weather cell which will keep it out of resident’s basements, and then over time we can then divert, then we can send that to the plant. But in the short term it allows us extra storage capacity and pumping capacity for that wet weather flow and it gives us the opportunity to hopefully protect some basements,” he explained.

Hewitt said the cost of the project was approximately $1 million. He said that staff still need to install safety signs indicating no swimming, fishing or skating throughout the property, since sewage and sludge remain in the former lagoon.

“The money was, I think, brilliantly spent,” Prue said. “I haven't had a single complaint about the tax dollars that had to go into this because in fact it was going to cost no more than just pumping it out and closing it up. So this is an example of what I think every town should be doing to save these old sanitary and sewage lagoons and turn them into parkland.”

“It's magnificent,” he added. 

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