Major wastewater upgrade projects are set to unfold in the municipalities of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and Petawawa, Ontario, after the local governments reached agreements over the last month.
A new moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) system will be added in Wetaskiwin to the city’s current lagoon-based treatment system. However, officials have also approved Associated Engineering to design a new $53-million wastewater facility for its 13,000 residents just south of Edmonton.
Wetaskiwin’s lagoon system was constructed in 1979 and has been in service for more than 40 years. Additionally, operating approval of the current facility expires in 2023.
Graham and Aquatera Utilities Inc. will form a business partnership to be known as Peace Hills Utilities Inc. to provide construction, financing, and long-term operations and maintenance services for the new wastewater treatment plant, which will operate as a Municipally Controlled Corporation or MCC.
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“Municipalities should not have to give up control of their utility assets to the private sector in order to finance vital infrastructure projects,” announced Grenville Riley, managing director of concessions at Graham, in a statement. “Through Graham’s Municipal Asset Partnership, municipalities now have an equitable solution available to ensure regulatory compliance while maintaining control of their infrastructure.”
In August 2020, Wetaskiwin council successfully secured and signed a $12.9-million Alberta Provincial Grant to aid in funding the construction of the facility after federal funding was denied.
The Wetaskiwin project also involves the construction of a headworks building, moving bed biofilm reactor tanks, rehabilitation at the existing plant, and upgrades to the South East Lift Station and Moseson Lift Station.
In Petawawa, Ontario, municipal officials have signed an agreement with Anaergia Inc. to use the company’s Omnivore system for the town of about 18,000 residents. The new system will upgrade the water pollution control plant’s digesters to process biosolids from the wastewater treatment operations, along with organics from the municipal solid waste stream. The digesters will then produce biogas that will be used to fuel a combined heat and power engine, reducing the Petawawa facility’s reliance on fossil fuel, and essentially reaching net-zero carbon emissions.
“This is the first wastewater plant in Canada that will benefit from Anaergia’s unique suite of technologies for upgrading existing wastewater infrastructure into a facility that will produce renewable energy,” announced Anaergia CEO Andrew Benedek.
Benedek added that the Omnivore technology has been successfully proven in the U.S., most recently at a facility belonging to California’s Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority.
“We expect to convert many more facilities in Canada and elsewhere as such conversions make economic and environmental sense. Furthermore, it makes wastewater plants resilient to power interruptions,” said Benedek.
The project has two key phases. Phase 1 (a) involves upgrades to existing digesters to co-digest biosolids and external food waste to produce renewable energy, as well as installation of a combined heat and power engine to produce electricity to offset plant electrical demand. Phase 1 (b) consists of wastewater sludge storage and thickening, as well as food waste storage work.
Phase 2 is set to tackle augmenting the digestate management with dewatering to reduce digestate loadout volume, followed by an enhancement of biogas utilization by adding renewable natural gas generation.
Anaergia will provide technical services to the plant for a period of 10 years.
The project received a grant of $2.7 million from the Low Carbon Economy Challenge Fund in November 2019.