Red Deer’s nutrient management facility soon underway to reduce phosphorus

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Aerial of Red Deer Downtown
Aerial photo of downtown Red Deer. According to project partner Stantec, it was determined that it would be beneficial for Red Deer to continue the use of its existing sludge lagoons, consider four different primary biosolids utilization options with backups, and initiate a phosphorus recovery system. Photo Credit: Waynercook, Wikimedia Commons

Preliminary demolition work will get underway in one month’s time for the construction of a new $19-million nutrient management facility (NMF) in Red Deer, Alberta, as local officials aim to extend the life of pipes and pumps impacted by struvite.   

The retrofit project at the existing wastewater management facility will separate phosphorus from Red Deer’s biosolids wastewater stream. One bioreactor cell from the original biological nutrient removal plant will be demolished and the NMF will be built in its place.  

The NMF will utilize NuReSys phosphorus technology in a fully-enclosed building that will be 14-metres tall with a floor area of 540 m2. It will include process tanks, a bagging area and a storage area. Recovered nutrients from the biosolids may be converted into an environmentally-friendly fertilizer product. 

“We needed a treatment process to reduce phosphorus recycling to save on equipment replacement costs,” Andria Klat, environmental planning engineer for the City of Red Deer’s utility services, and project manager for the upcoming nutrient management facility, told ES&E Magazine. 

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Struvite is a crystalline compound of magnesium ammonium phosphate that can form deposits on the inside of piping. Klat explained that struvite is formed when phosphorus is released from biosolids as they settle in lagoons. This phosphorus rich water gets returned to the front of the plant and mixes with influent.  

According to project partner Stantec, it was determined that it would be beneficial for Red Deer to continue the use of its existing sludge lagoons, consider four different primary biosolids utilization options with backups, and initiate a phosphorus recovery system. 

North America’s first NuReSys system was installed in 2021 at the Tres Rios Water Reclamation Facility in Arizona, where crews battled struvite build-up in pipelines and equipment for years following anaerobic digestion. By converting a minimum of 85% of the available orthophosphate into crystalline form (or leaving no more than 50 ppm remaining in reactor effluent), the phosphorus recycle stream back into the plant was broken, according to the Belgium-based company. 

The nutrient management facility project in Red Deer is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2025. 

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