The 45-kilometre long shoreline of Hamilton Harbour on Canada’s Lake Ontario has been at the heart of its surrounding communities for many centuries. Once a pristine source of fresh fish and a place of leisure for the local population, industrialisation and the growth of the City of Hamilton have had a detrimental effect on the life of the harbour. By the middle of the twentieth century, decades of toxic sediment, stormwater runoff, habitat loss, water quality deterioration, and other factors had caused severe damage to the Hamilton Harbour ecosystem.
In 1987, the International Joint Commission (IJC)—the organization overseeing the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement—identified the 500-square-kilometre Hamilton Harbour as one of 43 areas of concern (AOC). Being on a list of locations where environmental degradation seriously impaired the use and environmental health of the Great Lakes was a wake-up call for the city.
Over the past few years significant environmental engineering programmes have been implemented, the largest of which being the multiphase Clean Harbour programme.
Wastewater treatment project
In 2008, the City completed the Woodward Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Service Area Environmental Study Report to determine a plan for upgrades to the plant. This recommended investment to manage wet weather flows, provide treatment capacity, and meet treatment objectives defined by the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Federal Environmental Protection Act.
Located near the southeast corner of the harbour, it is the largest wastewater treatment plant in the Hamilton Harbour watershed and amongst the largest in Ontario. The Harbour also contains one of the largest toxic sediment sites on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
Because the plant is the largest single source of water flowing into Hamilton Harbour, the quality of that effluent has a direct and powerful impact on the harbour’s water quality and environmental health. The Woodward upgrade project is a multi-phase, multi-year process that includes a number of sub-projects, each of which has its own specification and timelines.
Costing $340 million, the upgrades include elevating the plant’s final treatment process from the secondary level to the tertiary (third) level. This increases the processing of the plant’s treated wastewater and will allow the plant to reach strict discharge limits described by the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan for phosphorus, ammonia and suspended solids.
A significant sub-project is the construction of a new raw sewage pumping station and collection system control to support wet weather and flooding control initiatives. Having an effective pumping station capable of handling current and projected flows is essential to the functioning of the wastewater treatment and the prevention of overflows in the harbour. Construction on the upgrade began in May 2017 and is projected to be complete in July 2021.
Woodward Avenue pumping station
Now approaching 60 years of age, the existing wastewater treatment plant has a rated average capacity of 409 million litres per day (MLD) and peak rated capacity of 614MLD. If this is exceeded, the excess water, being a mix of industrial and domestic waste and run-off from the land, is discharged into the harbour.
To comply with the long-term projected processing requirements, the plant will have a maximum receiving capacity of 1,700MLD. In order to meet this requirement, considerable effort had to be put into designing a highly efficient pumping station containing pumps with a proven track record in handling high volumes of untreated wastewater. After due consideration of the various pump options available, Maple Reinders, contractors for the pump station, together with the City of Hamilton selected KSB Pumps Inc., Canada as its pump supplier on the basis of KSB’s technology and knowledge of pump station design.
The design of the existing pump house at Woodward Avenue is rather unusual in that it is a circular construction. This has proved to have its advantages and benefits, for the new pump house now under construction is also circular, containing a circular split wet well located inside a circular dry well where 12 KSB Sewatec K700-950 G1 VGW vertical dry pit solid handling pump sets are installed. The pump house has a total elevation of 81m above sea level, and at almost 30m the subterranean wet well is much deeper than its predecessor. This larger and deeper wet well prevents system flooding and provides increased system storage.
There are several benefits of the wet well inside the dry well configuration. Firstly, dry well pumps, as opposed to wet well pumps, enable easy access to all pump parts for in-situ maintenance and repair. When components need to be removed from the dry well, they can be easily craned to the surface. The split wet well design, with six pumps allocated to either side, allows one side to be taken off stream for cleaning without there being any adverse impact on the efficiency of the pump house.
With the pump house being of a rather unconventional design, KSB had to address a number of design challenges imposed on the configuration of the pump mountings. Formulating a layout for the pumps around the exterior of the wet well was the first issue to contend with.
The answer was differing installation angles of pressure for the connection piece/inlet pipe. This in turn meant coming up with mountings peculiar to the configuration. For this KSB provided a tailor made volute casing for each pump with an integrated mounting flange foot, which allows the pumps to be anchored directly to the cast-in-place foundation blocks is, a concept unique to KSB.
In order to handle the optimum flow of wastewater through the plant, 10 pumps would be required for full-time availability, and a further two for standby demands. In addition, collectively the pumps had to be capable of handling up to 23,600l/s and a potential solids content size of 190mm.
The third significant issue to address was varying flows. At times when the effluent level is low cavitation has to be avoided, and when storm conditions arise, high flows have to be accommodated. By installing four variable frequency drives (VFDs), all the pumps automatically respond to the incoming flow. Finally, the pumps had to deliver high levels of efficiency.
Being able to handle large solids and control flow velocity gives the treatment plant the opportunity to drain the interceptors for cleaning through the manipulation and control of the interceptor. On the existing plant it is not possible to lower the level in the wet well to control the velocity in the interceptors.
Thus, when storms occur, extra inflow and increased velocity result in the interceptors losing the ability to contain accumulated sediment and this passes directly to the head works creating an overload condition. With the new pump house design, it will be possible to drain the interceptors as necessary and remove the extra grit load to the plant.
For the mechanical seals KSB worked with the local seal supplier on a special configuration to accommodate the pump installation and shaft. Split mechanical seals were selected and positioned above the bearing housing, thereby allowing them to be accessed and replaced in-situ. The dry well design gives the advantage of allowing easy access to both the seals and the bearings for maintenance.
By spring of 2020, construction of the dry and wet wells, including the cast-in-place foundation blocks for the pumps, had been completed and work on the service areas at and above ground level were underway. The first of the pumps had been craned into position and anchored to the mountings and complete installation of the pumps, drives and shafts is expected in early 2021.
This article was written by Bryan Orchard, an independent technical author and journalist based in the United Kingdom, for the January/February 2021 issue of Water Canada.
Header Image Credit: Reimar Construction.