A new automated waste water system — the first of its kind in Canada — is being installed in a small Saskatchewan town. The system is so good, that once the water is treated, the discharge will be able to be released into fishable lakes.
The town of Unity was told by the province that its current waste water system could only support the current population of 2,500 people. In an effort to expand, the town researched different options and came across an Arizona-based company, Soneera Water, which uses an Australian-developed system new to Canada.
According to Collin Field, director of public works and infrastructure with the Town of Unity, in a way it is a first for North America.
“This is the first one of its kind for treating domestic waste water in the west,” Field said. “The ones they installed in Australia and the couple they’ve trialed in the U.S. were predominately for industrial waste water. The system they’ve develop defies all common thinking practices in terms of waste water treatment.”
While the system was developed in Australia, certain aspects of the equipment has been manufactured at Tecvalco Ltd.’s manufacturing facility in North Battleford.
According to Field what makes this system so different is how user-friendly it is. He referred to it as “almost a hands free system” but added it still does require some monitoring. Field added it is an automatic system and there is very little hands on aspects. He gave the lack of manipulation of valves as an example.
Field said the quality of the waste water is monitored online however; there will be some laboratory tests to run, but he isn’t sure what those will be just yet. The installation of the system is nearing completion and should be ready to be fired up by the end of the week, but according to Field, the system hasn’t been approved by the Water Security Agency yet.
“For all intensive purposes this is a pilot project, but it is a full scale pilot project,” Field said. “It is being operated by Soneera until the water Security Agency gives it approval and rubber stamps the process.”
Field isn’t worried about not getting approved. The director said this system is far superior to the one currently used. Right now the system Unity uses would not be able to discharge into fishable lakes which they currently don’t have to worry about. The Soneera system will pass the standard for discharge into fishable lakes and water ways.
Right now Unity discharges into Sink and Gordon Lakes, which are classified as alkaline sloughs and do not connect to any other water source. Field said he hopes decades from now this system will make those lakes fishable. Soneera said it hopes the make the lakes fishable sooner in an email to BattlefordsNOW.
“With any luck, you will be able to go trout fishing in Sink Lake in a few years,” said CEO Darrell Behan.
According to Field, the system was chosen because of the cost. He couldn’t specify the exact amount but said it was about half of the other options. He added it will come at no extra cost to local tax payers.
“We just completed a new subdivision, but we haven’t sold any properties on it,” Field said. “We are hoping the revenue from the sales of individual properties will, not completely but, help to offset the cost of the new waste water system.”
Field added the new system will allow for a population of up to 3,500 residents and said the system can be expanded if needed.
When it comes to the system itself, the director said it essentially zaps the sewage until it separates the water from the sludge. The sludge is then separated and drained into a “sludge pond” and what is left over is clean, however not potable, water. The clean water will then be discharged into the lakes.
Field hopes the Water Security Agency will approve the system soon and plans to have a ribbon cutting ceremony in January.
Greg Higgins is battlefordsNOW's city municipal affairs and health reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @realgreghiggins.
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