Niverville transforms obsolete lagoon into a healthy wetland

Ducks Unlimited Canada is celebrating World Wetlands Day by highlighting a success story in Niverville, Man.

In 2007, the growing town was faced with the task of decommissioning its old lagoon wastewater system in favor of a more modern one.

“One of the challenges they had, there was approximately 53,000 tons of bio-solid material that would have had to have been removed,” said Lisette Ross, head of Wetland Services for Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Native Plant Solutions.

She said often in these cases, bio-solid materials are physically removed by trucks and spread out over farmlands to provide nutrients. However, a lack of available land in the area ruled out that option for Niverville.

“They, I think at that time, knew about the possibilities of remediating bio-solids in place, and they reached out to us,” said Ross.

Ducks Unlimited partnered with the town, using plants native to the area to remove contaminants from the hazardous materials in a process called “bioremediation.”

“We use plant systems to help us break down those products and turn them into something that is much safer,” Ross said.

It was the first project of its kind in North America. The process took more than ten years, and was considered a success.

The remediated lagoon system was turned into safe, beautiful wetlands. It has now become an extension of an existing park system and a popular bird watching area.

Ross said the experimental process turned out to be a lot cheaper than the traditional methods of decommissioning a wastewater lagoon, coming in at around $750,000.

She hopes Niverville’s willingness to try a new approach will help other communities see the value of wetlands.

“They really have a valuable place on our landscape, whether they’re a constructed system or a natural system,” said Ross.

-with files from CTV’s Kimberly Wertman