Wastewater Treatment Plant

In 2016, the Town of Whitecourt completed a master plan for the Wastewater Treatment Plant which involved two components:

  • A technical review of the plant design, capacity and operations
  • Public consultation and education

Stantec Consulting completed the technical review which included:

  • A review of the plant, the original design in relation to how it is currently performing/operating.
  • A review of the generation of sludge and what can be done to minimize it.
  • A review of how we handle gravel and other inert materials.
  • Recommendation on changes to the plant that can be increase capacity and address odour concerns.  This included an assessment on how new processes will impact current and future operating and capital budgets.

Stantec presented the report to Council in November 2016, and Whitecourt is proceeding with next steps as recommended by Stantec in the Master Plan.

Odour Mitigation

Stantec Engineering completed a report in 2014 that outlined options available to mitigate odours from the wastewater treatment plant.  Since that time, the Town of Whitecourt has:

  • Restricted the septic waste arriving at the wastewater treatment plant;
  • Relocated the truck dump station to the plant and placed controls on its use;
  • Implemented an odour control program which includes the monitoring/testing/injection of Biomax to control H2S generation;
  • Implemented a monitoring program for the detection of H2S on properties adjacent to the plant;
  • Changed the operating practices of the plant to control odours generated by the digesters;
  • Planted over 300 trees in an effort to establish a green buffer between the lagoon and residents;
  • Incorporated information to assist residents with proper use of the sanitary sewer system into promotional materials;
  • Drafted a new Utilities bylaw that will enhance the ability of the Town to control the use of the sanitary sewer collection system (to be presented to the Policies and Prioriites Committee in February 2017).

What causes odour?

Odours generated from anaerobic processes (i.e. without oxygen) are far more offensive than those generated from aerobic processes (i.e. with oxygen).

Other sources of odour/causes of odour:

  • agriculture
  • sludge hauling (industrial)
  • wastewater trunk lines
  • oilfield activities

Sources of Odour

Sludge Storage Cells

  • Open to the atmosphere, located west of the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Based on a study conducted by Stantec in 2014, the main source of odour from the property is from the sludge storage cells.
  • Odours from the cells are typically highest in early summer and taper off into the fall season.
  • Colder temperatures reduce biological activity and the onset of ice cover prevents the release of gases and associated odours.
  • Removal of biosolids from the cells (typically done in late October) can result in short-term odour issues due to agitation associated with the trucks loading.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • Normally a low odour source, musty smell, and somewhat continuous.
  • Odour will vary in relation to what the facility is receiving.
  • Excessive amounts of inert material (i.e. sand, gravel, non-biodegradable materials) can accumulate in the treatment processes and impair the overall performance resulting in a high level of odour from the storage cells.