Sechelt Water Resource Centre – A State-of-the-Art Facility
Helping Create a State-of-the-Art Tertiary Wastewater Treatment Plant
The District of Sechelt (pop. 9000), tucked between the open waters of the Georgia Strait and the Sechelt Inlet, has always been a unique place with a great respect for nature and a vibrant cultural scene. Recently it tackled a huge goal—to produce the largest infrastructure project in its history—a $24.9 million wastewater treatment plant.
The plan was to build a site that would be integrated into the community as opposed to hidden from it, to “set the standard in the region” in terms of innovation and energy efficiency. We were proud to be chosen as a key partner on this project, and we spoke to award winning engineer Chris Town about why this job was so unique, how we helped facilitate Sechelt’s vision, and what this type of wastewater treatment plant means for the future of plants in other cities.
When we first heard about Sechelt’s proposed project, it was through a Request For Proposal (RFP) that detailed the District’s goal to create a wastewater treatment plant that blended into park-like surroundings in the community, that produced no noise or odours and that created the highest standard of reuse.
“Our proposal was chosen, because although it wasn’t the cheapest, it truly fulfilled the district’s goals,” says Chris. “We aimed to design a project that was attractive from the outside and also highly functional on the inside. It’s extremely efficient and very much integrated into the city. Because it was built beside their old smelly, noisy wastewater treatment plant, I’m virtually certain that property values will actually go up with this new plant in place. When it comes to this kind of a project, that’s really saying something.”
“Because it was built beside their old smelly, noisy wastewater treatment plant, I’m virtually certain that property values will actually go up with this new plant in place.”
The Water Resource Center took two years to build and is now complete. It meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold accreditation and uses an interesting process from Europe where part of the biological treatment is provided by microorganisms fixed to the roots of plants that are grown in a greenhouse that sits above the fed-batch reactors.
The site is located in downtown Sechelt on the existing Ebbtide Wastewater Treatment Plant and Parks & Public Works site and the building integrates well with the surrounding neighbourhood and the nearby Sechelt Marsh park. One of the interesting things about this facility is that there is no fencing around it; residents and tourists are free to walk around it and look through windows. The site exceeds the highest federal and provincial treatment standards, making it one of the best performing facilities in Canada. In addition to the very high treatment standards, the operating costs of the facility are dramatically lower than the previous plant, particularly in terms of energy costs.
“The site is operating at 2000 cubic meters/day which is half the design flow. There is excess capacity in the plant for growth in the community. And the reclaimed water can be reused in many ways, in the short term future that may be washing gravel in the nearby pit or for parks and golf course irrigation,” explains Chris. This project has generated a lot of interest from other municipalities around BC. “It is a unique approach and it will be interesting to see if communities adopt the concept of integrating waste water treatment plants into the community and will be willing to pay more for it,” says Chris. “I’m not sure if that will take off but this project really provided an opportunity to see what can be done with the highest level of innovation possible.”
Funding for this project came through a variety of sources. The Government of Canada contributed over $18 million ($8 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund, $1.6 million from the Communities Component of the 2007 Building Canada Fund, and a grant and low interest loan totaling $8.4 million from the Green Municipal Fund). The Province of British Columbia provided $1.6 million and the Sechelt Indian Government District paid $1.68 million to purchase treatment capacity. The balance of the cost ($3.7 million) came from the District of Sechelt, which had reserves set aside for this specifically.
We are proud to announce our work on this project has garnered an APEGBC 2016 Environmental Award. To learn more about the project watch this video produced by APEGBC, which quickly explains our involvement in the project.
To learn more about the facility, visit this great Sechelt.ca webpage that list 63 Frequently Asked Questions: www.sechelt.ca/FAQs