MBRs allow water reuse of sewage treatment

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MBRs allow water reuse of sewage treatment

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Subdivisions continue to multiply. Developers routinely contact us for proposals for communities that are ‘outside the water treatment grid’ and are sourcing water and wastewater treatment systems. Water can be expensive to bring to these communities and they are keen to reuse water wherever possible.




With a membrane bioreactor communities are able to both treat sewage and recover bacteria and pathogen free water for their fire stations, as well as irrigation. This can mean big environmental and promotional benefits for developers, not to mention cost savings!

At BI Pure Water we would like to see communities using MBR because it can be a completely closed loop system. Dewatered sludge can be spread on fields, recovering nitrogen and phosphorus, or mixed into compost. The MBR requires a little more skilled maintenance than a MBBR or SBR system because it requires – two or three times a year typically – a chemical clean of membranes. Also the membranes need to be monitored for breaks or fouling, though these symptoms would be monitored through the computer control system.

A budgetary price proposed for this typical subdivision is under $200,000 for the first 100 dwellings. MBR is modular so in Phase II and III of the development another MBR would be added later to defer capital costs.

MBRs are built and tested complete inside a container or steel framed building. This can save on construction costs and are hassle-free by being built and tested in the factory and shipped complete and ready for implementation in the community. The plants are by nature steel frame structures that are resistant to extreme weather events, as well as mold, wildlife and rodents.

Working with UBC to develop a water treatment system that meets First Nations needs

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Small UV pilot plant is designed to address cultural and safe drinking water needs cost-effectively

Reseau Mobile Pilot Plant for First Nations water treatmentMobile pilot plant goes on the road to First Nations communities Reseau Mobile Pilot Plant for First Nations water treatmentJim Brown, water operator for Lytton First Nation (CTV First Story photo) Reseau Mobile Pilot Plant for First Nations water treatmentUBC research team with pilot water treatment plant (CTV First Story photo)
BI Pure Water worked with UBC researchers and Lytton First Nation to develop a water disinfection system that addresses the needs of native communities, both cultural values as well as the basic necessity of clean drinking water.

“We can’t continue to have these people living off the current system they have now with just chlorine as a disinfectant because of the high turbidity … the chlorine residual goes up so the people say they don’t like to drink the water because most of the time the chlorine residual is too high. Maybe that is one of the reasons they have sores or don’t feel very good after they have a bath,” says Jim Brown, water maintenance manager of Lytton First Nation recently in a CTV First Story news report.

“We believe many First Nations and other small communities have difficulties retaining trained operators or even have the equipment to deal with turbidity events,” says George Thorpe, BI Pure Water VP and engineer. BI Pure Water has disinfection systems and supplies chlorine products and servicing to more than a dozen First Nations communities across Western Canada. People may also be concerned the chemicals will alter the spiritual quality of the element, according to the CTV news report.

“Often in communities we realize if they have sufficient information and they know it is absolutely necessary to add a little bit of chlorine in their water they don’t have any objections,” says Madjid Mohseni, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC. “The objections to the chlorine comes when it’s too much chlorine and if it’s unnecessary addition of chlorine. So by collecting sufficient info from source of water and putting UV treatment as part of our treatment package we are minimizing the amount of chlorine that needs to be added,” says Dr. Mohseni.

A small cost efficient treatment system was designed that utilizes a basket strainer to remove large particles and organic items that may be pumped from the creek and could plug valves or other components, a self-cleaning filter to reduce particles above 25 microns and some pathogens, a bag filter to remove contaminants down to 10 microns, a UV disinfection unit to neutralize bacteria, cysts and common viruses to required levels, and chlorine residual disinfection to remove microbiological buildup in the piping and remove any viruses left after UV disinfection. The system will be financed by UBC and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).

Although the pilot project will only serve 5-6 homes on the west side of the Fraser River near Lytton – the community of Nickeyeah – Mohseni hopes the project will serve as a blueprint for First Nations communities across the country. As of May 31, 2014, there were 130 Drinking Water Advisories in effect in 91 First Nation communities across Canada, not including BC which reports differently. Half of First Nations water systems in BC are deemed to be high risk; last year 20% of First Nations across Canada were forced to buy or boil their drinking water, according to CTV News.

Lytton water maintenance manager Jim Brown had other interesting things to say about First Nations water treatment: “I visited an old lady on a private system and she says, “Jim , years ago we lost alot of kids from diarrhea. They had no idea why the kids were dying, that’s because of the E.coli. They were taking the water right out of the ditch and consuming it. They had no idea – to this day that lady doesn’t understand – it’s because her system isn’t chlorinated”.

“If I could drink out of a tap and it was good water I’d be saving millions,” says Nickeyeah elder Ruby Dunstan who buys several litres a week of bottled drinking water for her family since moving to the area about 20 years ago.

With the new treatment system band members will have access to clean drinking water right out of the tap — surface water that band members have been using for generations without being worried about microbial contamination.

Nickeyeah relies on a small sloped creek for their drinking water which is significantly affected by seasons and weather. Spring snowmelt and alot of rain, etc, affect the quality of water so as a result for a majority of the year the community is on a boil water advisory.

Sixth Nunavut treatment plant contract awarded to BI Pure Water

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Sixth Nunavut treatment plant contract awarded to BI Pure Water

Super-insulated containers are built and delivered nearly ready to operate by locals

Taloyoak Nunavut water treatment plant with renewable energyTaloyoak, Nunavut water treatment plant with wind and solar renewable energy sources
BI Pure Water has been awarded its sixth water treatment plant contract in Nunavut in the past three years. The community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) will receive a new water treatment system in a package plant to replace the old, for $2million. BI Pure Water of Surrey, BC is working with consulting engineer Williams Engineering and the contractor is NDL Construction in Winnipeg.

Working with the same contractors and Stantec Consulting, BI Pure Water was also awarded the Cambridge Bay treatment plant upgrade for $5.2 million in May. There were no other bidders for the remote Arctic communities. The population of Cambridge Bay is 1600 and 1450 for Kugluktuk.

“We’ve been building and servicing treatment plants in very cold climates for many years now and we’re happy to use that experience to provide safe, consistent water quality for other remote communities,“ says Scott Foster, President of BI Pure Water.

BI Pure Water has already successfully designed, delivered, installed and trained local operators for water treatment plants in Baker Lake, Kugaaruk, Taloyoak and Chesterfield Inlet, as well as a Canadian Forces Radar Station Fox 2. on Baffin Island.

Each of the treatment plants called for extraordinary insulation values. Taloyoak required consideration of social and environmental factors, with minimal impact on the fragile northern environment. Sustainable solar and wind are the primary energy sources for Taloyoak’s operation. The severe arctic weather calls for extra insulation in the plant’s containers, and the insulated intake lines are installed well below the surface, and heated to prevent freezing.

The systems are designed with media filtration, ultraviolet irradiation and chlorination. The plants are designed to deliver up to 1,200 L/min (72 m3/hr for Baker Lake). BI Pure Water supplied its remote monitoring and trending system to provide trending of important parameters to computer screens in the community, and to the BI Pure offices in Surrey. Ongoing training is the result, with BI Pure staff available to help the operator diagnose problems in real time.

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