New funding set for two major BC wastewater projects

ona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
Design concept images for upgrades to the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo credit: Metro Vancouver

Richmond and Prince Rupert have secured major federal funding, as well as British Columbia investments, in the development of new wastewater infrastructure.

In Richmond, B.C., local officials will receive $250 million from the province to Metro Vancouver for one-third of the total cost of Phase 1 of an upgrade project at the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. Metro Vancouver is completing upgrades to each of its five regional wastewater treatment plants within the region. Iona will be the last to meet the federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulation that requires a minimum of secondary treatment.

“The Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant provides services to people in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, University of British Columbia and the University Endowment Lands, and the Musqueam Indian Band,” announced Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in a statement. “We are working together to make sure needed infrastructure is updated and maintained so communities can thrive into the future.”

The Iona plant upgrades could approach $10 billion over several years.  Officials plan to improve the level of treatment from primary to tertiary, in order to protect water quality and the marine environment and help to withstand earthquakes and rising sea levels. The plant will also recover sustainable thermal energy and resources from the wastewater, all while minimizing its odour.

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Stantec is set to lead as program management consultant for the Iona upgrades.

In Prince Rupert, B.C., local officials are looking to build on the results of a 2020 pilot project that used a naturalized wetland system to treat the city’s combined storm and sewer wastewater. The initial stages identified an adequate location for the treatment.

The new Green Municipal Fund investment of $400,000 will support the pilot project and help to explore how it can be integrated with local soils, plants and other features of the natural landscape. Prince Rupert officials described the project as filtering out solids and sediments from the water in the first treatment step, before wastewater makes its way beneath the wetland, where pollutants are broken down through natural processes in the vegetation of the marshland.

After the natural treatment process, wastewater will be treated and pumped back into the existing sewer network, “while we work to demonstrate that it can be treated to a standard acceptable to our regulators,” according to the City’s website.

The project is hoped to act as a replacement for an aging pump station. At an estimated cost of $6.8 million, it would also save local officials from twinning all existing combined storm and sewer lines, which could cost more than $175 million.

“If successful, the new system could be replicated across the city, creating significant cost savings while improving water quality in the port of Prince Rupert, allowing for a healthier marine environment and greater recreational opportunities,” said Natural Resources Canada in a statement.

B.C. is also celebrating the $2.3-million completion of the watermain project on Karen Place for Beaver Creek. It marks five years’ worth of work that will ensure residents see fewer emergency breaks and less water leakage in the future.


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