Wastewater Treatment and Management
An emerging issue in water management is the need for environmentally sustainable wastewater treatment systems. SaskWater currently owns and operates wastewater facilities in Nipawin, Pierceland and Fort Qu'Appelle.
The Nipawin Regional Wastewater Treatment System is a four cell facultative lagoon system that provides wastewater treatment for the Town of Nipawin, the Village of Codette, Bunge Canada Ltd.'s processing plant and the surrounding area. Starting operation in 1995, the treatment facilities provide an environmentally sensitive and cost-effective solution to the wastewater treatment and disposal needs of the area.
Built in 2005, the Echo Regional Wastewater System is located near Fort Qu'Appelle and consists of an aeration treatment cell and lift station, a primary treatment cell and an evaporation cell. The treatment facilities provide wastewater services for the Town of Fort Qu'Appelle, the resort communities of B-Say-Tah and Fort San and the Rural Municipality of North Qu'Appelle. The system is a zero discharge system that removes wastewater from the Qu'Appelle Valley to the treatment and evaporation cells. With no wastewater being released into the environment, the system provides protection to the sensitive Qu'Appelle Valley habitat.
In 2017-18, SaskWater received and treated 1.1 billion litres of wastewater.
Effluent Irrigated Woodlot Project
SaskWater has undertaken a pilot project to study the benefits of effluent irrigated woodlots for wastewater disposal in response to the recent stringent effluent disposal guidelines from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). The intent is to provide a lower cost option to qualified Saskatchewan communities who use lagoon-based wastewater treatment systems to comply with current and future environmental guidelines. We believe that effluent irrigated woodlots, with "Zero Discharge" to water bodies, are a viable alternative effluent disposal method to discharging into a watercourse.
There are many communities in Saskatchewan which use facultative lagoons. With suitable effluent quality and soils, these existing wastewater systems could be upgraded or expanded to take advantage of the secondary treated effluent. Woodlots consisting of specially selected hybrid poplars and willows are able to uptake approximately three to five times the volume of effluent when compared to traditional agricultural crops (such as a hay or alfalfa crop). This allows greater effluent application intensity with a smaller footprint which results in reduced costs as compared to traditional tertiary treatment options.
The goal is a well-managed effluent irrigation system that maximizes wastewater application but does not exceed the uptake capacity of the trees or soil and protects groundwater quality.
In June 2011, a three acre site owned by the City of Moose Jaw was planted with specially selected fast growing hybrid poplar and willow clones in five different application plots. The trees were nested within the five plots to receive varying effluent application levels. Each plot is approximately 0.5 acre with six different varieties of specially selected fast growing hybrid poplar clones and three varieties of willow clones.
A multi-species Heritage Forest plot (0.25 acre) was also planted using a variety of trees, including white spruce, Colorado spruce, various pines and maples, Siberian larch, balsam fir, Douglas fir, red cedar, balsam poplar, bur oak, white birch, etc. A Heritage Forest does not take up as much effluent as willows and poplars, but it does provide communities with a beautiful recreational mixed-wood forest when active effluent irrigation has ended or been moved to a new site.
Effluent is pumped from the City of Moose Jaw's wastewater treatment plant storage lagoon and is distributed through a system of high-rate micro-sprinklers that are installed throughout the five plots and the Heritage Forest plot. The site is remotely monitored and controlled.
The project began in 2008, was completed in 2014 and now remains as a natural forested site. The results from this project have documented an inexpensive means to dispose of municipal wastewater effluent while protecting surface water from pollution.
The main objectives of the project included, but were not limited to:
- Containing 100% of effluent within the woodlot area with "Zero Discharge" to receiving water bodies such as rivers, creeks or lakes
- Evaluating the use of secondary treated effluent on select hybrid poplar and willow clones
- Studying the minimum and maximum effluent application rates and determine a sustainable agronomic rate for land disposal/treatment of effluent
- Determining capital costs as well as operational and maintenance costs to aid in estimation of full-scale project costs
- Evaluating the survival and growth rates of different tree clones in a prairie climate
- Evaluating nutrient loading
- Studying ground water impacts from potential leachate
- Studying soil impacts due to effluent irrigation
- Preparing a business plan for effluent irrigation as a disposal option for qualified communities
- Beautifying communities
- Demonstrating the option of growing a high-quality Heritage Forest with effluent
- City of Moose Jaw (http://www.moosejaw.ca/)
- Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) at the University of Regina (http://www.parc.ca/)
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Agroforestry Development Centre (ADC) (http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/science-and-innovation/agricultural-practices/agroforestry/?id=1177431400694)
- Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (MoAg) (http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/)
- University of Regina (https://www.uregina.ca/)
- Communities of Tomorrow (has since been dissolved)
- Ground water quality and water level monitoring as required by the Water Security Agency
- Soils quality monitoring as required by the Water Security Agency and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
- Record the effluent loading as required for net and gross duty determination
- Monitor the tree growth and health
- Monitor and track weather parameters such as rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, wind speed and net evaporation