Cold Lake city council has voted to fund the $1 million redesign of the city’s waste water treatment plant in the hopes of making the most out of available grants.
“This project is required to bring our waste water effluent within the ever increasing federal and provincial environmental regulations,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “This is a large and very critical project for our community and the environment and it is exciting to see significant progress on it.”
City staff had arranged for a new waste water treatment process to be studied over the winter, and what they’ve found is a process called a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) which will allow a facility to be built much more economically.
In the past Cold Lake’s waste water was put through a lagoon system which had been flagged by Alberta Environment; Copeland described the process as outdated.
A traditional treatment facility that would meet Cold Lake’s needs is estimated to cost anywhere from $50 million to $80 million, while the early estimated budget for an MBBR facility is approximately $20 million.
The MBBR design is based on similar facilities based in Europe; it will be the first of its kind in North America.
Early indications are saying that the technology will meet Cold Lake’s needs, but a winter’s test was required to ensure the technology’s effectiveness in the northern Alberta climate; according to the data it’s looking like it will be up to the task, though a final report from the study a the end of the month will be the deciding factor.
There are hopes that the MBBR facility will put water back into Beaver River in a drinkable state.
“A big thanks goes out to our staff for looking into all options available,” Copeland said. “This can save our community millions of dollars and provide a template for more cost-effective water treatment for other communities throughout Canada. These are not the type of facilities that people talk about every day, but they are critical, costly infrastructure. Finding a solution with the potential to save our taxpayers $30 million or more is an exciting step forward.”
The design of the facility is expected to take 12 to 18 months. During this time, the City and the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission will be seeking grant funding opportunities to help finance the project.
To hear Copeland speak more about the MBBR facility, check out his latest interview on The Morning After with Michael Menzies