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City looking at new waste water plant design

The City of Cold Lake says it’s moving some money around to pay for the design of a new waste water treatment plant.

In order to make the best use of available grants, city council voted to fund the $1 million design of the new plant from Municipal Sustainability Initiative dollars available to the city.

“This project is required to bring our waste water effluent within the ever increasing federal and provincial environmental regulations,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “This is a large and very critical project for our community and the environment and it is exciting to see significant progress on it.”

Over the winter, city staff had arranged for a relatively new waste water treatment process to be studied. Known as a “moving bed biofilm reactor” (MBBR), the process allows a treatment facility to be built much more economically than a facility that would house more traditional treatment processes. A traditional treatment facility that would meet Cold Lake’s needs is estimated to cost anywhere from $50 million to $80 million. The early estimated budget for an MBBR facility is approximately $20 million.

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While no MBBR waste water treatment facilities have been built in Canada, they are in use in cold climates in Europe. This winter’s pilot project was required to test the technology to ensure its effectiveness in the northern Alberta climate. Early indications are that the technology will meet Cold Lake’s needs. The final report from the study will be received later this month. Should the study conclude that MBBR technology be appropriate for Cold Lake, design on the new treatment plant will begin. The study was 80 percent funded from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund.

“A big thanks goes out to our staff for looking into all options available,” Copeland said. “This can save our community millions of dollars and provide a template for more cost-effective water treatment for other communities throughout Canada. These are not the type of facilities that people talk about every day, but they are critical, costly infrastructure. Finding a solution with the potential to save our taxpayers $30 million or more is an exciting step forward.”

The design of the facility is expected to take 12 to 18 months. During this time, the City and the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission will be seeking grant funding opportunities to help finance the project.

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