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 development of a polishing wetland to support enhanced wastewater treatment at its Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The polishing wetland project has been in the future vision for wastewater treatment in the area 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 effluent to the Okanagan River that consistently meets the required targets on the Operation Certificate, the addition of a polishing wetland represents an opportunity for innovation, using natural ecosystem processes and phytoremediation to improve wastewater further. 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 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 to the wastewater treatment plant.
Current site of wetland under construction:
The construction of the polishing wetland is anticipated to be complete by February 2020 followed by a commissioning period for plant establishment. Initial wetland seeding will take place in 2020, after construction is complete. Commissioning of the polishing wetland necessitates a multi-year period of water level management (during the growing season) to encourage wetland plants to grow. The commissioning process is anticipated to commence 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 and $700K from the Community Works fund.
Dewatering Solids Processing Upgrades
The Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has been processing wastewater since March 2013. Due to funding limitations, the facility and equipment required to process and separate solids from the wastewater did not fit into the budget and it was decided to defer its installation to a later date when adequate funding could be acquired.
The current Okanagan Falls WWTP carries out thickening of the sludge which is stored in underground-aerated tanks prior to septic trucks hauling the thickened sludge over 22 kms to the Penticton Wastewater Treatment Plant for the required further dewatering and processing. Currently about 4 to 6 truckloads of sludge are taken to the Penticton WWTP each week.
With the addition of the solids processing facility at the Okanagan Falls WWTP, the hauling and processing costs paid to a third party will substantially decrease. Reduced trucking will also have positive benefits in reduction of carbon dioxide (GHG) emissions.
Funding for the $2.06 million solids processing facility project comes from the Strategic Priorities Fund administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).