A Small British Columbia Town Develops a Sustainable Wastewater Treatment Plant

(3BL Media/Justmeabs) Big cities such as Los Angeles and New York are not the only places with sustainability plans in places. Sechelt is a small town in British Columbia, Canada with a population of 8,000 residents. In 2011, Sechelt published its sustainability plan.

Sechelt had two aging wastewater treatment plants which needed to be replaced as they had significant noise and odor issues and did not effectively handle residuals. The District of Sechelt decided that instead of refurbishing both plants, it would build a new one that would surpass regulatory requirements and meet LEED Gold standards. The town’s sustainability plan set goals for the project, which included fully integrating resource recovery and supporting future growth.

The Sechelt Water Resource Center is the first one in North America to utilize the Organica Fed Batch Reactor (FBR) process to obtain great water quality with a small footprint. The system has achieved successful results in Europe and Asia. Organica is a Budapest, Hungary based water treatment company that created the FBR process which improves the efficiency of water treatment and oxygen transfer characteristics. Traditional treatment technologies are combined in a greenhouse with locally sourced vegetation.

The design of the plant incorporates in a greenhouse. Plants are suspended over treatment tanks which are enclosed in a greenhouse. The biological treatment process is enhanced through the plants, making it more efficient while reducing energy and space needs. The greenhouse helps control odors and noise.

The plant’s efficient treatment process eliminates the need for expansion of the current outfall, and that saves the District a $3 million one-time investment. The design of the plant also limits operational costs, and meets indirect recycling water quality and Class A biosolids standards. The plant operates using about 40 percent less electrical energy than the older two plants did. Both the building and process are pending LEED Gold certification. The new wastewater plant brings many advantages to Sechelt, including discharging 10 times less solids into Trail Bay and reducing energy consumption 48 percent compared to the older plants.

The District of Sechelt chose the engineering services company, Tetra Tech to provide owner’s engineer services throughout the execution of the project. Tetra Tech provided pre-design document reviews, developed design-build request for proposal documents, helped in managing the procurement process and execution, and provided support for design development, construction administration, and commissioning. Tetra Tech’s team developed a comprehensive operations and maintenance reporting spreadsheet to capture all anticipated costs to the community of Sechelt. The team also managed the shutdown of the more inefficient of the two older plants in an 18-month period. After the new plant was commissioned, the second older plant was shut down.

Sechelt’s wastewater treatment plant is a model for sustainability and innovation while being cost effective. It shows what a small town can do to implement big sustainability.

Photo: Tetra Tech