Sustainability Resources can assist municipalities, industries, and development professionals navigate the regulatory pathways for Wastewater Reuse. Our Program Advisor, Lisa M. Fox has actively supported the development of water and regional planning regulations, policies, and frameworks and provides expert advice to all our clients on water reuse, water sustainability, integrated resource management and land use.
Case Study - Ecological Wastewater Treatment & Reuse
Through our work with Wheatland County, we have confirmed the feasibility of innovative ecological wastewater treatment (EWT) systems in small rural communities.
Analysis of the various small scale wastewater treatment options concluded that both package plants and ecological wastewater treatment can provide a high quality economic solution for small communities. The technologies are both affordable and scalable. The reduced land footprint and opportunity to customize the effluent for agricultural purposes enhances the viability with respect to economic development in Rural Alberta.
This important project is now in the implementation phase and we are navigating regulatory pathways for the establishment of an algae-based wastewater system that will treat septic and raw wastewater from the small rural hamlet. This project wouldn't have been possible without the support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, leadership from Municipal Council, and active collaboration with Alberta's Regulators.
Water reuse is an important consideration in the overall water management strategy of a community. Reclaimed water supply can bridge short-term fluctuations in surface, ground, or rain water. Furthermore, leveraging wastewater as a water source capitalizes on its year-round reliability. This is critical in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, where access to growth is limited due to the closure of the basin to new surface water allocations.
Traditional water utility models focus on cost reduction rather than revenue generation. The new business model for systems that include water reuse, considers former “wastes” as assets. As an example, while traditional nitrogen and phosphorous removal processes are costly and chemically intensive, nutrient loaded wastewater is a valuable input for agri-businesses such as algae and greenhouse production or crop irrigation. The value of these water reuse systems is maximized as process by- products are used as additional revenue streams.
Infrastructure replacements and development pressures are a major burden for municipalities with potential for growth that is restricted by existing wastewater treatment system capacities. Energy costs associated with wastewater treatment and distribution are at the top of municipal costs and provide one of the greatest opportunities for efficiencies and upgrades. Additionally, creative infrastructure funding approaches involving industry and commercial partnerships with communities is needed.
The idea of a new business model for water that sees waste as an asset, can be an enabling environment for agri-business and rural economic development. Creating opportunities for multiple users for the same water unit necessitates sharing of the investment in water treatment, conveyance and protection of source water value chain. The result is an economic collaboration or business cluster based on water.