Town of Ponoka tests a new waste water filtration system

The project is set for six months and is paid for with a provincial grant

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The Town of Ponoka is hosting a six-month pilot project at its Waste Water Treatment Facility to test and evaluate the potential benefits of new waste water filtration technology.

The new technology is owned and developed by an Edmonton-based company, Swirltex, which recently invited the town to participate in the pilot project.

Potential Benefits

“The benefits we’re expecting to see with this new technology include an even higher quality of treated waste water than we see with our current lagoon system, as well as an accelerated waste water treatment process that could expand the capacity of our lagoon system by allowing us to process much higher volumes of effluent year round,” said Kwolick.

Peter Christou, president of Swirltex, explained the reason for the accelerated treatment process and higher quality of treated waste water is largely due to the micro air bubbles produced by the technology.

“The micro bubbles increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the effluent, accelerating the bacterial process that removes ammonia from the waste water,” said Christou.

The higher quality waste water also opens the possibility of selling treated waste water for industrial or agricultural use.

Laboratory Testing Ensures Safe Waste Water Quality

The town will continue to conduct scheduled bi-annual discharges of its treated waste water during the six month trial.

Once the pilot project is completed, the town will analyze the trial results and determine whether the benefits generated by the technology make it worthwhile to implement at the sewage lagoon on a more permanent basis, or if the town should continue exploring other technologies and options.

Kwolick noted that one consideration may be that rather than requiring municipalities to invest capital in purchasing a stand-alone system, Swirltex would provide its waste water treatment technology on a fee-for-service basis.

“We are curious to see how much effluent the Swirltex technology is able to treat during the winter months when bacterial activity in the town sewage lagoon typically slows to almost a halt as the lagoon ponds ice up. If they are able to significantly increase the volume of waste water we can treat through the winter, that could greatly expand the capacity of our existing lagoon system,” said Kwolick.

Other municipalities are expected to visit the Ponoka Waste Water Treatment Facility to view the pilot project during the coming months. NorQuest College is developing a Lagoon Specialist Course for lagoon operators that includes training on the use of new technologies such as the Swirltex system.

The training course, which is expected to begin this spring, will bring NorQuest students to Ponoka to visit the pilot project site. Swirltex has previously conducted smaller scale testing of its technology, but the Ponoka pilot project will be the largest trial to date, with plans to process in excess of 1,500 to 2,000 cubic metres of effluent daily.

Project Funded by Provincial Grant

The project is being funded through a provincial grant from the Alberta Innovates Water Innovation Program, which supports initiatives that promote improved water productivity, healthy aquatic ecosystems and safe, secure drinking water.

“We anticipate the Swirltex technology could help improve the performance of traditional waste water lagoons, resulting in increased capacity and a higher quality of treated waste water being discharged into the environment,” said Vicki Lightbown, Director of the Alberta Innovates Water Innovation Program.

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