Cold Lake, AB – The Cold Lake Regional Utilities Commission has awarded a contract to build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Shovels will hit the ground for the $34 million project this summer. The new plant will include upgraded technology to ensure that the effluent discharge from the wastewater treatment facility will meet all federal and provincial regulatory requirements.

“Wastewater treatment is one of those things that does not often grab headlines until things go very wrong,” Cold Lake RUSC Chair Ryan Bailey said. “This project will modernize our treatment process to bring us well within compliance, despite a very challenging set of circumstances.”

The new wastewater treatment plant will use a technology known as a moving bed bio reactor. This process uses millions of small polyethylene media designed to provide a large surface area for biofilm growth. At the same time, aeration is used to keep the media suspended in the wastewater, allowing the biofilm to do its job as efficiently as possible. The biofilm treats the water, lowering the biochemical oxygen demand, and breaking down other harmful chemicals in the process. This technology was chosen for its effectiveness and because it could be implemented in a cost-effective manner. The new plant will use much of the existing plant’s infrastructure and takes significantly less to operate and maintain compared to other wastewater treatment processes.

Because the treated effluent is released into the Beaver River, which already comes with a high organic load from upstream contributors, the process must treat the water to a very high quality. The moving bed bio reactor process was tested in a pilot project to ensure its ability to meet new, more stringent environmental regulations surrounding the discharge of effluent.  The results of the pilot project are now being used by other Cities across Canada in similar climate zones.

The current process cannot meet the regulations, which means that RUSC has been operating the existing wastewater treatment plant under a temporary extension for its operating approval as the new plant was being designed and tendered for construction.

“Wastewater treatment is a very necessary, very expensive but a not-so-glamourous part of running an urban municipality,” RUSC Manager Kevin Nagoya said. “While we received some government funding to help, RUSC will need to debt finance part of the facility and, ultimately there will be an impact on utility rates as RUSC must recover its costs.”

The project will take about 24 months to complete and bring online. RUSC is comprised of members from the City of Cold Lake, the Municipal District of Bonnyville, Department of National Defence and Cold Lake First Nations.

The contract for the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant was awarded to Sure-Form Contracting Ltd.


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