Upgrade nears completion

$24 million upgrade to Penticton’s advanced wastewater treatment plant expected to be complete next month

Lyle Painchaud

Lyle Painchaud

A completed $24 million upgrade to Penticton’s advanced wastewater treatment plant will now allow more properties to be added to the system.

“The improvements that have been made here are innovative, they are environmentally friendly and they will also provide treatment capacity for the citizens in Penticton for the long term,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for electric utility.

A report from city staff and a consultant in early 2008 reviewed the impact and risk associated with delaying the start of construction of the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Half of the plant needed to have its equipment replaced to prevent the risk of major process failure at a high level.

The upgraded facility will now serve properties on the Penticton Indian Band lands and has added future capacity for Sage Mesa and West Bench, along with new developments within Penticton’s boundaries.

“The construction completed to date is a big step in upgrading the existing plant, which has served the community well for several decades. The plant is now well on its way to having the ability to meet the growth needs of our community well into the future,” said Mayor Dan Ashton.

The city thanked its employees last week for the work they do at the advanced wastewater treatment plant.

“A lot of focus is put on the other infrastructure in Penticton, and infrastructure pieces like this are taken for granted at the city, not the people that work here, but we don’t think about it whether you flush a handle on your toilet or turn the sink tap on. The water goes and somebody looks after it. Well each and every one of you that does that, on behalf of all of us, thank you very much,” said Ashton.

The project includes several features to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, such as the installation of a micro-turbine, heat recovery technology and a centrifuge sludge-handling unit. The technology will convert greenhouse gas emissions into electricity and recover heat for reuse in the facility.

Additional improvements to the Lee Avenue lift station and force main will also allow reclaimed water to be used for irrigation throughout the south part of the city, reducing demand for treated domestic water.

The project was partially funded with $10.6 million under the federal gas tax fund.

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the City of Penticton for investing in this important project. I know it will provide clear and tremendous benefits in keeping the region clean, healthy and environmentally sound,” said Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan Coquihalla.

Construction on the upgrade started in September 2009 and is expected to be complete by December. The plant remained fully operational during the period of construction without any loss of service to residents.

“This is a great example of partnering to make large infrastructure improvements possible sooner than would otherwise be possible,” said Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff. “Using such innovative technology in upgrading the wastewater plant ensures that future needs of B.C. families will be met sustainably, even with community growth.”