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Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Inventory of wastewater treatment options helps remote and Indigenous communities improve effluent quality

wastewater treatment options

Many small, remote and Indigenous communities face challenges to meet established treated water (effluent) quality standards. These communities require significant support to implement or upgrade their wastewater treatment systems to improve their wastewater effluent quality.

To support these communities, Environment and Climate Change Canada retained Associated Engineering to complete an inventory and assessment of existing, commercially-available wastewater treatment systems that could meet the needs of small Canadian municipalities and remote and indigenous communities with a population of less than 5,000 people or collecting an average of less than 2,500 cubic metres of influent (wastewater) per day.

The three main objectives of the project were to better equip the Federal Government with reliable information on practical wastewater treatment options for small communities; provide information to support any potential future work in developing new wastewater effluent standards for these types of communities that are not currently subject of the Wastewater System Effluent Regulation, specifically North of 60 and 54 (Quebec) and in Newfoundland; and share the information internally with Indigenous Services Canada and Infrastructure Canada to support their decision-making and funding programs for major infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities and municipalities.

The government required an inventory list to help develop a future regulatory framework in northern Canadian communities and locations above the 54th Parallel in Quebec and Newfoundland, both of which are currently not subject to the Wastewater System Effluent Regulation.

Associated Engineering partnered with the University of Ottawa to develop the inventory of currently-implemented, commercially-available, municipal wastewater treatment technologies in Canada. The inventory consists of conventional and emerging technologies and includes passive mechanical/passive stand-alone technologies, as well as potential upgrades and/or add-on technology options.

“We assessed opportunities for optimizing existing wastewater treatment processes or infrastructure instead of building it brand new. We also considered challenges that small communities have securing funding, understanding life-cycle costs and financial planning, making informed decisions regarding the optimal technology, and training and retaining qualified operators.” - Project Manager, Klas Ohman

The inventory list is based on information provided by owners and operators of wastewater treatment systems through the Effluent Regulatory Reporting Information systems and on the Quebec performance evaluation of municipal water treatment facilities. The project team reviewed the resiliency of each technology, its applicability to various climatic conditions, and potential technology combinations to meet the government’s standards. The project team also considered decentralized solutions for small residential subdivisions with flows of less than 100 cubic metres per day.

wastewater treatment options

Klas tells us, “From our review, we generated fact sheets for 20 technologies, including upgrade and add-on options suitable for small, remote, and Indigenous communities, including those in harsh and very cold climatic conditions typical of northern Canada. As well, resource recovery and upgrade opportunities are included in the fact sheets.”

Benchmarking capital and operating costs were important as costs vary significantly across Canada. Klas says, “As much as possible, we included case studies and information from vendors.” This project supports efforts throughout Canada to manage water quality, improve environmental conditions, and safeguard public health through improved wastewater treatment and water resource recovery systems.

Key Associated Engineering personnel on this project included Klas Ohman, Graham Lang, Lauretta Pearse, and Mike Whalley, assisted by Robert Delatolla and Juliana Mejia Franco at the University of Ottawa