The Regional Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant is better equipped for future growth after the recent completion of a $13.3 million expansion.
The plant, which treats water from West Kelowna, Peachland and Westbank First Nation sewer systems was previously equipped to serve a population of 43,000—now it will be able to serve a larger population.
According to chief operator of the plant, Mike Wyman, major upgrades included the addition of a centrifuge, two new bioreactors, secondary clarifiers and UV disinfection.
“With the expansion and the development of the local area, (the future) is always a concern,” said Wyman.
“You never want to be behind.”
The upgrade has expanded flow capacity from 11.2 M3/d to 16.8 M3/d.
The purpose of the wastewater treatment plant is to treat waterborne waste to a degree that it may be discharged at an environmentally acceptable level, prevent the pollution of surface waters and protect downstream users.
Wyman said there are still many residents who have the wrong idea about what the plant does.
“A misconception would be that the wastewater is basically doused with some sort of chemical to remove the waste then sent out to Okanagan Lake.”
Wyman toured local dignitaries and other guests throughout the plant Wednesday morning to show them the entire process of treating wastewater.
He explained that the facility is world-class for its use of automation.
“Even back in 1988, it was one of the most automated plants in the world and still is to this day.”
The Canada-British Columbia Building Canada Fund—Communities Component funded $4.9 million of the total cost. The remaining funds for the expansion came from reserve contributions collected by the three local government stakeholders.
“This project meets the communities’ goal of high environmental standards and allows for additional capacity to bring on expanded neighbourhood growth,” said Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart.
Wyman said a fourth upgrade will likely occur in the future, but a timeline for that expansion has yet to be determined.
“It depends on development of the local area, but there is definitely a stage four,” said Wyman.
“It would be another set of bioreactors, another set of clarifies, probably more filtration.”
He added the ongoing concern of odour control would also be looked at in the future.