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.

November 28, 2016 Presentation to Council

what is the town of whitecourt doing now to mitigate odours?

Stantec is building upon recommendations and findings outlined in the Master Plan.  A sampling program has been conducted, and a report back to Council is anticipated in the early fall of 2019.

In the last several years 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;

  • A new Utilities bylaw is being drafted 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 early fall of 2019).

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 , 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.

Sump Pit Materials Testing Incentive Program

Whitecourt’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is designed to treat organic materials. Unfortunately, unexpected grit materials (e.g., small loose particles of sand, stone, clay, silt from carwashes, shops/commercial sumps) are entering the wastewater system resulting in blockages, backups, environmental concerns, unpleasant odours, and damage to piping/ equipment/other structures, which increases maintenance costs.

The Town seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate the discharge of grit materials and prohibited substances at the source, and will be working with local businesses to educate them on what materials can be released into the Town's wastewater system, and how inorganic materials can effect the system.

To encourage businesses, the Town offers a Testing Incentive Program to those businesses that would cover 50% or up to $250 of the sump pit material testing costs annually. Eligible businesses will need to provide testing results and copy of their invoices for reimbursement to the Town.