Manitoba’s Selkirk WWTP honoured for innovation, sustainability

WWTP innovation tour
Manitoba’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Tracy Schmidt, along with a delegation of MLAs, toured the wastewater treatment plant in March with Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson. Photo Credit: City of Selkirk

Manitoba’s Red River Basin Commission (RRBC) has honoured the City of Selkirk’s wastewater treatment plant with the North Chapter Award, which recognizes the community’s contribution and commitment to water management and protection. 

The $30-million plant opened in 2021, using two sets of ultrafiltration membrane cartridge units, each capable of handling 6 million litres per day. Powered entirely by electricity, the facility uses zero fossil fuels in its day-to-day operations. 

“I was in shock because I have seen other membrane filtration working in Manitoba and I’ve never seen anything this clear. It gave me goosebumps,” recalls Selkirk’s Utilities Manager, Raven Sharma, who is also the first woman and Manitoban to be appointed to the Western Chapter of the North American Society for Trenchless Technologies (NASTT). 

The Chair of the RRBC North Chapter, Charles Posthumus, said it was the high quality of the wastewater treatment that led to Selkirk’s award.  

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“Not only for the water coming out of the plant, but the reusing of the water that can be used in industry,” Posthumus said in a statement. “Your award is for your beautiful plant. What’s better than water going back into the river that’s clean. Congratulations on being this year’s recipient.”  

Manitoba’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Tracy Schmidt, along with a delegation of MLAs, toured the wastewater treatment plant in March with Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson, who said that recognition from the Red River Basin Commission “is a big deal.” 

“We are proud of our wastewater treatment plant and we know it’s an investment in our city and our environment, but to have such a respected organization take notice, it’s an honour,” Johannson said in a statement. 

Selkirk officials also applied for a Strategic Transformation and Applied Research (STAR) grant from Red River College Polytech to work with three environmental engineering students to study ways to turn sludge removed from the plant’s raw sewage into a reusable product.  

Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol said that using the wastewater treatment plant as a research centre is another example of Selkirk’s commitment to being better environmental stewards and striving for municipal innovation. 

“When we created the design for this innovative plant, we dedicated space and installed special connections to the flow of wastewater through the plant,” Nicol announced in a statement. “This allows for researchers both from academia and the private sector to come here and do leading research and pilot new technologies. Not only will this generate some revenues which helps to offset costs of running the utility, but it exposes our staff to leading research and new technology which in the long run gives us a leg up. It gives us access to some of the best minds in this field which again, just helps us do our work better and achieve even better results,” Nicol added.

Last year’s winner of the RRBC North Chapter Award was the Village of Dunnottar. It won for its use of duckweed, a small aquatic plant that removes excess phosphorus in its wastewater lagoon. 

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