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Wastewater case study: 10 years. 4 procurement methods. 1 cutting-edge treatment project.

June 12, 2021

By Reno Fiorante

Project delivery and innovation were critical to the development of an integrated wastewater resource management solution for southern Vancouver Island

Now and again, projects come along that really stick in your mind. I’m lucky because, over the course of my career, I’ve worked on a lot of amazing water and wastewater treatment projects with great Stantec teams and clients.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) wastewater project has been in the making for many years. For the past decade, I’ve been involved in the largest capital project in the CRD’s history: The Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program. CRD’s wastewater treatment program opened in December 2020, providing wastewater treatment to Greater Victoria’s approximately 330,000 residents.

The CRD had three key goals for the wastewater treatment program. The first is complying with federal regulations for secondary treatment by December 31, 2020. In fact, the new wastewater treatment program provides tertiary treatment—exceeding the federal requirement. The second is reducing life-cycle costs to CRD residents and businesses. Our plan ended up saving CRD $425 million as well as enhancing the day-to-day lives of local communities with an efficient wastewater system. The third goal is optimizing resource recovery from the wastewater treatment process (more on that later) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

McLoughlin Point Tertiary Wastewater Treatment Plant (Image courtesy of Capital Regional District).

A new wastewater processing journey

With the new facilities up and running, when Greater Victoria residents empty their sink or flush their toilet, dirty water takes a new journey. First, the wastewater is screened and degritted at the Clover Point and Macaulay Point pump stations. Then it is pumped to the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant for tertiary treatment—a more advanced and rigorous third level of treatment. Primary and secondary treatment typically only get wastewater clean enough to discharge into the environment. Tertiary treatment goes beyond that, making the water suitable for reuse. Not all wastewater treatment plants use tertiary treatment. Those that do, achieve more stringent levels of cleanliness to meet the exacting standards that govern water reuse.

At McLoughlin Point, heat is recovered from the treated wastewater to power the plant buildings. Solids are pumped 20 kilometers—through an elevation difference of 152 metres—to the Hartland Residuals Treatment Facility, where the gas is recovered from the digestion process and used to heat the plant’s digestors and run the dryer. The resource recovery I mentioned earlier takes place at this stage of the process. Pellets are produced from the solids, and they are used as fuel at cement kilns.

In 2009, Stantec came on board as the program manager. For the next five years, work focused on technical planning, project implementation planning, permitting, siting, and options analysis, alongside many other tasks including procurement analysis, funding options, and public consultation. In 2016, the project was ready to go with a strong business case as well as procurement, design, construction, and commissioning plans.

So, what made this project special? Two things: Project delivery and innovation. 

From a personal point of view, it’s been a privilege to work on this project in my home province, delivering infrastructure that supports our communities and safeguards our environment.

Project delivery and innovation

Our team led the procurement for the project and owner’s engineering services. The project is made up of two large pumping stations (Macaulay Point and Clover Point), the Residuals Treatment Facility at Hartland Landfill, McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, three smaller pumping stations, two force mains, over 20 kilometers of pipeline, and other infrastructure. This led to nine major contracts in total. If you want to find out more, CRD has a great video, project map, and more information on their website.

Typically, for a project of this nature, using traditional delivery models could take around seven to eight years once project definition and planning is complete. As part of our work, we worked with the CRD to undertake a review and assessment process using triple bottom-line criteria: environmental, social, and financial. This process—along with a value for money assessment, quantitative risk allocation, and risk exposure analysis—resulted in the project being delivered with several procurement models. Ultimately, a hybrid procurement model was selected to address the individual nature of each component of the program.

What are the benefits of this delivery approach? By using different procurement methods for the different phases of the project, the program could be delivered in an accelerated timeframe—just four years.

How did this work? Well, as an example, using a design-build model at the pump stations meant contractors could start construction earlier to enable commissioning of the pump stations and delivery of wastewater to the McLoughlin plant for commissioning. The result? This approach, developed in partnership with the CRD, will result in savings of $425 million over previous concepts and three years in time, bringing these important facilities to the communities much faster than traditional delivery methods.

When it comes to innovation: Where do I even start? During the planning stage, we evaluated over 20 options, configurations, and several siting options for the facilities. From high-rate grit removal processes that don’t take much space at the two pumping stations, to pumping and lifting sludge up 152 meters to Hartland Residuals Treatment Facility, to horizontal drilling under Victoria Harbour, the project team came up with innovative solutions that really stand out for me. While complex and challenging, the project team and client were laser-focused on delivering infrastructure that is integral to our towns and cities—and exceeding federal requirements.

It’s been inspiring to lead a talented team with diverse expertise to contribute to the success of this project. 

McLoughlin Point Tertiary Wastewater Treatment Plant (Image courtesy of Capital Regional District).

A project close to my heart

From a personal point of view, it’s been a privilege to work on this project in my home province, delivering infrastructure that supports our communities and safeguards our environment. The program has been a part of my life for the past decade, and I’ve met and worked with many talented people. I would like to thank all the Victoria, Surrey, Sidney, and Vancouver, British Columbia; and Phoenix, Arizona, office staff who contributed to the success of the program. We also had a great client who worked with us as an integrated team to get this project over the finish line.

This truly is a project that I consider a career legacy. Our team has worked so hard—pretty much each of the firm’s business lines has been involved. In December, when the project came online, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment. At Stantec we talk about the three Cs—community, creativity, and client relationships. This project hits all three, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Interested in finding out more about this project and wastewater treatment? Feel free to reach out, I’d like to hear from you. 

  • Reno Fiorante

    Reno has led the design of over 35 water and wastewater treatment plants, and is actively involved as a technical advisor and specialist on many of our other water related projects.

    Contact Reno
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