Residents of Sundre and surrounding area will soon benefit from a state-of-the-art electrochemical wastewater treatment plant. It is made possible through an innovative partnership between the Town of Sundre, the Government of Alberta, and private sector technology partners.

“With this $7.5 Million commitment from the Government of Alberta, Sundre will soon be home to a new generation of cutting-edge wastewater treatment technology,” said Jason Nixon, Alberta’s minister of environment and parks. “This technology will set a path for other municipalities to explore innovative solutions to improve wastewater quality outcomes and reduce costs. I am excited to see the results of this project, which is the culmination of years of hard work by local officials to provide needed wastewater treatment services while ensuring protection of the pristine Red Deer River.”

The Government of Alberta has committed to fund $7.5 Million starting in 2022-23 towards a full scale wastewater treatment plant that will use a closed loop system where only treated water is discharged. Resulting waste sludge will be turned into treated pellets that meet Fertilizer Standards which could then be sold as fertilizer or used as land fill.

This technology will be tested for a one-year period, to satisfy the requirements of Short Term Testing of an Advanced Wastewater Treatment Pilot Plant, authorized under Section 67(3)(c) of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act by Alberta Environment and Parks for the pilot project. Construction will begin in 2021 and the resulting wastewater treatment plant, expected to be operational in early 2022, will act as a pilot project to prove the capability of this technology to operate successfully in Alberta. The project will also allow the Town to proceed with the requirement of upgrading and increasing its daily flow rate, allowing Sundre to grow and to continue processing excess wastewater from surrounding areas.

“I am pleased to announce $7.5 Million from the Government of Alberta for this exciting new project,” said Transportation Minister Ric McIver. “The demand for new wastewater treatment facilities continues to grow across Alberta in both small and large communities. New technologies like the pilot project being undertaken in Sundre are exactly the kind of creative solutions that will help our municipal sector build for the future as our economy recovers.”

Beginning in 2017, the Town of Sundre began exploring new options to ensure a safe, environmentally sound, and cost-effective water treatment solution. In 2018, the Town commissioned a study of its infrastructure, as well as future growth projections for the commercial, industrial, and residential needs of the community. The resulting Utility Master Plan determined that significant upgrades to the wastewater system or an entirely new system were required to serve the growing community. Initial capital cost estimates of a traditional wastewater treatment system for Sundre were escalating to near $45 Million—an extremely high price tag for a community of its size.

“I am deeply grateful to Minister Nixon and Minister McIver for believing in the innovative technology that will be used in this Sundre project,” said Terry Leslie, mayor of the Town of Sundre. “Thank you for believing we can do so much better than the traditional wastewater treatment currently in use, to far exceed regulatory requirements in treating for ammonia and future possibilities for treating pharmaceuticals, and for believing Sundre can help set a higher standard for municipal environmental stewardship in the treatment of wastewater.”

“Thank you to our CAO, Ms. Linda Nelson, for working tirelessly with ministry staff, to get us all to this day of celebration,” added Leslie. “Thank you to the staff who worked with CAO Nelson on this project. Thank you also to AUMA President, Barry Morishita, who has helped us champion this project for Sundre, and for all Alberta municipalities looking for innovative, affordable solutions for the treatment of wastewater.”

“We are very excited about the future opportunities for this technology in Alberta as it far exceeds the regulations for the purification of wastewater, will reduce effluent effects to the pristine Red Deer River, will keep operational costs low, ‘fits’ seamlessly with our traditional lagoon system, and reduces the capital costs for future upgrades,” noted Leslie. “This is a very ‘good news’ story for all of us.”

Many communities in Alberta currently utilize a traditional lagoon to treat their wastewater. While lagoons are reasonably inexpensive to operate, they take up a significant amount of land, and can take up to 200 days to treat the wastewater. The advanced technology Sundre will deploy is more efficient and is designed specifically to outlast the lifespan of a lagoon.  In comparison to a traditional lagoon, this proposed technology has a significantly smaller footprint, and can treat raw sewage in less than 60 minutes.

“It is great to see the provincial government and Town of Sundre partner to fund this important project and the promising technology behind it,” said Barry Morishita, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. “The AUMA is optimistic that this collaboration will lead to significant operational cost savings and improved water quality for residents. We also hope it serves as a model for other innovative and collaborative projects across Alberta.”

The overall cost of the full project is $11.5 Million. This funding partnership between the Province, the Town, and the technology partners will include the total construction of the wastewater treatment plant including infrastructure and all required equipment to achieve the required standards set by Alberta Environment and Parks. Upon successfully completing an agreed-upon testing period and meeting the discharge criteria set forth by Alberta Environment, the Technology Partners would be paid in full by the Town within an agreed timeframe. This arrangement effectively removes all financial risk for the Town of Sundre and the Province of Alberta.

Header image credit: Town of Sundre.


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