Calgary Invests in Wastewater Plant Development

Calgary has been preparing for a future of increased population growth by upgrading the Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. Although it does not have the bigger budgets or glamour that other infrastructure projects like a new LRT may have, it is no less important to develop.

The city has appropriated $1 billion to be used over the next 10 years for the full development of the treatment plant. According to Andy Hughes, project manager for the Bonnybrook expansion, “It’s an essential part of our environmental protection responsibilities at the City of Calgary.”

Currently, the Bonnybrook wastewater treatment plant is serving the northern half of Calgary, which has the capability to handle wastewater treatment for 946,000 people. The remaining parts of the city are handled by the smaller Fish Creek and Pine Creek plants. By 2024, when the Bonnybrook plant is fully developed it should be able to handle wastewater treatment for a population of about 1.37 million people.

When construction began in 2014, the planners had more than just expanding the plant’s capacity in mind. There are new facilities being built to improve the capabilities of the plant. One of the new additions is a biosolids dewatering facility which was constructed at a cost of $95 million and is currently in operation. The biosolids it produces are used for agricultural purposes and is likewise used for composting at the nearby Shepard landfill.

The city planners also wanted to improve the energy efficiency of Bonnybrook with plans to double the capacity of an existing co-generation plant. This structure is responsible for producing biogas from the treatment process which is used to both generate electricity and provide heat for the buildings. Hughes asserts that, “for certain periods of the year we should be able to power the plant entirely off the generated electricity from the biogas itself.” This will also result in energy savings for Bonnybrook and significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions when the expansion is completed by 2022.

Another improvement being made to the plant is in flood protection based on the lessons learned from the 2013 flood which cost the city $13.5 million in damages. A new berm has been built on the Bow River side of the plant to prevent overland flooding and a new outlet was constructed a kilometre downstream from the plant to avoid the two outflow channels from being overwhelmed by surging floodwaters. “We’re actually putting the outlet in the bed of the river. That helps with a couple of things. It helps a little bit with flood resiliency but it also enhances the wastewater’s diffusion in the river itself,” Hughes adds.

These upgrades will come at a price for Calgarians however as they will be paying for these upgrades through increased utility rates. A typical household would normally pay around $65 for water, stormwater, and wastewater services in 2009 but it currently costs around $116. More projected increases are expected in the coming years and the monthly bill could go as high as $133 by 2022.

Hughes believes that the Bonnybrook upgrades will keep the plant sufficient until the mid-2030s but with the expected increase in population, more upgrades will always be planned. “We’re already thinking about what’s the next expansion, beyond this one. We’re looking probably up to about 2070 in terms of our long-range planning.”

If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.


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