UWaterloo, UBC students win big at WEFTEC for water, wastewater solutions

The University of Waterloo (pictured) team took top prize in the water environment design category for its stormwater retrofit project. Photo credit: Water Environment Federation

Student teams from the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia walked away as winners this month from the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s) 2022 Student Design Competition in New Orleans.

Hosted by the WEF Students and Young Professionals Committee at WEF’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) on October 9, some 25 teams from four countries competed to solve water quality issues in front of a panel of judges.

The University of Waterloo (UWaterloo) team took top prize in the water environment design category for its stormwater retrofit project designed for MacMorrison Park in the City of Barrie, Ontario. The team competed under the guidance of William Annable, and on behalf of the Water Environment Association of Ontario.

Their project identified Barrie’s MacMorrison Park as a potential site for a stormwater retrofit because it receives water from over 250 hectares of urbanized land via Sophia Creek and a stormwater channel. As a result, downstream and surrounding residences of the park often experience flash flooding after major rain events.

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The UWaterloo team consisting of Seoyeong Lee, Mark Lieberman, Lee Reck, and Adele Watson, proposed the construction of two stormwater management ponds in the park to attenuate high volume storm flows, maximize on-site detention and improve water quality downstream.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) team won second place in the wastewater category for their biosolids management strategy, designed for the Regional District of Nanaimo, B.C.

Under the tutelage of faculty advisor Madjid Mohsenim, and in partnership with the British Columbia Water and Waste Association, the UBC team proposed three solutions with a total price tag of $43.3 million as a new biosolids strategy for Nanaimo’s Pollution Control Centre. Combining a thermal hydrolysis unit, a biogas upgrade, and a composting system, could generate annual revenue of $3.1 million, the team proposed.

Hydrolysis applied prior to anaerobic digestion could decrease the required digester volume by 70% and increase the digestion rate by a factor of 2.3, the team’s project stated.

The UBC team consisted of Parsa Mivehchi, Ben Alberga, Caelan Accilli, Ramzi Hijazi, and Mohamed El Badrawy.

Canadian teams have won several times at WEFTEC’s Student Design Competition since its inception. The University of British Columbia and the University of Guelph took first place in the Water Environment Competition at the 2018 and 2020 WEFTECs respectively.

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