Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant
New Project Updates and Past Engineering Reports - see below
The new Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has been processing wastewater since March of 2013. All of the wastewater previously sent to the old treatment plant is now being sent with a lift station to the new treatment plant site. The treatment process removes the organics and nutrients from the wastewater through a process called Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR). The effluent is very highly treated before discharge into the Okanagan River Channel.
The state-of-the art facility replaces the existing facility, located adjacent to a residential area in Okanagan Falls. The old wastewater treatment plant was not able to keep up with the treatment needs and could not meet the ever increasing environmental standards. Additionally one of the biggest issues was the odours created from the solids drying beds.
In February 2010, pre-design for the new WWTP commenced, upon retention of the engineering firm AECOM Canada. The pre-design was presented to the public at an open house in September 2010 and opinions were received. Taking into consideration the response from the public, the design was finalized in July 2011.
The construction of the new works was released to tender and was subsequently awarded to Greyback Construction Ltd. as the general contractor.
Funding for the $11.7 million facility came from different sources. The project received $6.2 million in federal provincial funding through the Canada-British Columbia Building Canada Fund, Communities Component in 2010. The remaining contribution is from the residents of the service area through the RDOS.
The treated effluent is used during the process for water maintenance functions and landscape irrigation. The heating and cooling system uses the treated effluent in various ways to provide up to 95 percent of the heating/cooling requirements for the building. Treated effluent is also used in the toilets and many other places around the plant.
On July 3, 2013 the Okanagan Falls WWTP celebrated its grand opening with speeches from dignitaries and tours of the facility for the public. The project has been a community oriented project since the beginning more than a decade ago.
On October 17, 2013 the Southern Interior Construction Association recognized the excellence in design and construction for all the environmental initiatives incorporated into the treatment plant by awarding the treatment plant the Green Award. Representatives from the RDOS, AECOM Canada and Greyback Construction were present to accept the award.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) is actively working on the commissioning of a polishing wetland, using the natural functions of vegetation, soil and organisms to support enhanced wastewater treatment at its Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The polishing wetland project has been a future component in wastewater treatment since the idea was initially discussed during the development of the ‘Okanagan Falls Sewage Treatment Plant – Strategic Review’ in 2005.
Although the WWTP currently discharges high quality (low nutrient, sanitized) effluent to the Okanagan River that consistently exceeds the required targets of the Operation Certificate, the addition of a polishing wetland represents an opportunity for innovation, using natural ecosystem processes and phytoremediation to further improve discharge water prior to introduction to the Okanagan river. In addition to serving a valuable role in wastewater treatment, the wetland also has the potential to act as a research, education and interpretation site.
The primary purpose of the polishing wetland is enhanced treatment. A treatment wetland is a human-made, engineered system that uses wetland elements (i.e., plants, water and soils) to improve water quality. It has the potential to remove contaminants that are beyond the current capability of wastewater treatment plants.
In 2015, the Regional District purchased a property for developing a wetland system. The following figure shows the location of the property in relation to the wastewater treatment plant.
Current site of wetland under construction:
The construction of the polishing wetland was completed by the end of February 2020 and is currently undergoing a commissioning period including plant establishment and operational testing. Initial wetland seeding took place in the spring and summer of 2020, after construction was complete. Commissioning of the polishing wetland necessitates a multi-year period of water level management (during both the growing and dormant seasons’) to encourage wetland plants to grow. The commissioning process began in March 2020 and is estimated to take two to three years to complete.
Funding for the $1.06 million wetland system project comes from two different sources. The project received $361K from the Regionally Significant Projects (UBCM Grant) and $700K from the Area ‘D’ Community Works fund.
Native Plant Solutions, a branch of Ducks Unlimited Canada, designed the wetlands and oversaw the construction and commissioning. Once the wetlands are commissioned there is very little operational effort required to maintain the process, mainly involving opening and closing of the wetlands drain and supply valves for change over from dormant winter period to the active summer period and vice versa.
Dewatering Solids Processing Upgrade Project - Construction Updates
The Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment plant was originally designed to be constructed in multiple phases in order to reduce the initial capital cost of construction. The current phase includes the addition of a solids dewatering process. Currently the thickened ‘cake’ of organic matter is hauled via septic Vacuum trucks 22kms to the Penticton advanced waste water treatment plant for further processing and dewatering before ultimately being trucked to the biosolids composting site on Campbell Mountain Landfill.
Typically, 6 truckloads of sludge are transported each week. With the addition of the solids dewatering process on-site we can reduce the costly shipping process requiring vacuum trucks, instead reducing the requirement to a roll-off truck on a single journey to the biosolids compost facility. The removal of water also greatly reduces the frequency of trucking required as more product can be trucked in a single load.
The new facility is funded by a grant for $2.06 million from the Strategic Priorities Fund administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).
Engineering Reports and Studies:
History of Okanagan Falls Sewer:
- 2010 Presentation Pre-Design Public Information Meeting Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant September - P. Galvagno, P. Eng., T. Forty, P. Eng. AECOM
- 2010 RDOS Storyboards on display September 22, 2010 Pre-Design Public Information Meeting Okanagan Falls WWTP
- 2007 RDOS Wastewater Watch Newsletter - A Kaleden and Skaha Estates Sewer Project Update October
- 2007 Report Kaleden Lakeshore & Skaha Estates Rotating Biological Contractor & Biological Nutrient Removal Sewage Treatment Plant Options July - Earth Tech (dba AECOM)
- 2005 Report Okanagan Falls Sewage Treatment Plant - Strategic Review August - Earth Tech (dba AECOM)
- 2005 RDOS Open House Display - Okanagan Falls Strategic Review June (display panels presented to the public at the Open House on June 22, 2005
- 2005 RDOS Wastewater Watch Newsletter - An Okanagan Falls Sewer Project Update June