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Alberta wastewater innovation and energy use projects highlighted through new pilot funding

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Seven Alberta communities will soon be receiving money through the Green Municipal Fund to improve water and wastewater services that range from new lagoon technology to floating wetlands.

Delivered through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the new funding will serve the Town of Crossfield, Brazeau County, the University of Calgary, the City of Leduc, the City of Brooks, the Town of Canmore, and the Town of High River.

“Cities are key partners in pioneering practical climate solutions. Through the Green Municipal Fund we’re supporting municipalities in their efforts to lower emissions through projects like energy efficient retrofits, electric and hybrid electric transit pilots, and efficiencies in wastewater treatment,” announced Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, in a statement.

To meet the demand of a growing population and enhance water quality in the Nose Hill watershed of Crossfield, $363,950 will go towards testing whether Calgary-based Swirltex Lagoon Unit technology can eliminate the need for constructing additional lagoon cells at the town’s existing water treatment facility.

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Swirltex provides membrane filtration while hyper-oxidizing the wastewater stream, the company says. The system provides an alternative to releasing wastewater from lagoons to the environment. Instead, it treats wastewater and transforms it to clean water, which can then be sold for a range of industrial and agricultural applications, such as car washes, irrigation, and oil and gas.

Brazeau County will receive $260,880 for a pilot project that will assess the use of constructed floating wetlands to treat municipal sewage in waste stabilization ponds and improve the quality of wastewater before it is discharged into the environment. In early testing, county officials said they used two plant species that were successful in removing high nutrient loads.

Dr. Christopher Walker, one of four scientists working on the project with county staff, said in a summer 2020 municipal bulletin that, “[…] this wetland system, which works similar to hydroponics, can be a valuable ‘green’ approach to retrofitting existing waste ponds across Canada.”

Another project to receive the new funding includes $175,000 for the University of Calgary to conduct a feasibility study on decarbonizing the university’s main campus district energy system. The system is responsible for approximately 60% of the school’s annual GHG emissions, school officials said. The project aims to transform the district energy system on campus into a low-temperature, low-carbon system, while integrating energy storage and smart grid capacities.

The City of Leduc is set to receive $135,690 to assess environmental site conditions and develop a risk management or remedial action plan for its Public Services main shop and Public Services storage yard. Previous studies identified high chloride concentration and the presence of a chloride plume originating from the study area and migrating into nearby Telford Lake, local officials reported.

The City of Brooks will undertake a feasibility study to determine whether cost savings can be achieved through the design of an innovative wetland-based wastewater treatment system. This $82,000 study would address insufficient storage capacity of the current wastewater lagoons that are also in breach of provincial regulatory requirements.

Lastly, the Town of Canmore will receive $42,050 in funding to conduct a study to identify renewable energy or low-carbon energy projects that it could pursue to meet its emission reduction targets.

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