A homegrown solution to Lloyd's wastewater dilemma

By Geoff Lee

February 9, 2017 12:00 AM

FROM THIS TO THAT On the left is a jar of treated water held by Darrell Behan, CEO of Soneera Water LLC, and on the right, a jar of sewage entering a membrane-free system that Soneera and its local partner, Tecvalco, installed for the town of Unity. The technology is being touted as a possiblle solution for Lloydminster's wastewater system. On Tuesday, the companies toured the plant that's being tested for expected approval by the Water Security Agency in the next couple of months. See Geoff Lee's story on page 3. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The City of Lloydminster could latch onto a local and cheaper alternative to building a new wastewater treatment facility, currently estimated at $80 million.
Tecvalco Ltd. with two offices in Lloydminster and a manufacturing plant in North Battleford is piloting its first membrane-free system in Canada, installed for the town of Unity.
The Memfree system went online in January, in partnership with Soneera Water LLC, using its continuous-flow flocculation water cleaning technology.
Officials from Tecvalco and Soneera toured the Unity site on Tuesday with expectations the water treatment system would be of interest to Lloydminster.
“We’ve been in contact with Lloyd last year,” Mike Menger, president of Tecvalco, said in a phone interview.
“We had some preliminary discussions and they told us when more firm or concrete RFQs (requests for quotes) or RFPs (requests for proposals) come out, we would be considered.”
The site tour was also the launch of Tecvalco’s campaign to market the technology to municipalities in Saskatchewan including Lloydminster where the company has seven employees.
“That’s why the pilot project in Unity is so important to us,  because we’re able to actually bring people to site to show them that it works, how it works, why it’s wonderful and why we believe it is a smart solution,” said Menger.
Menger expects the system will be approved within three months by Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA).
Two of the Memfree systems were installed at Unity to handle twice the size of the town’s current population at an estimated cost of between $3.4 and $ 3.5 million, including infrastructure costs.
That compares to $80 million for a complete mechanical waste water system for Lloydminster to meet new environment standards by the WSA.
“If we don’t have to spend $80 million that would be my preference,” said Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers, from Saskatoon.
“There’s certainly options out there and we will explore every option that we can because it’s going to be quite new and we want to be as innovative as we can be.”
Aalbers said he’s sure Tecvalco will be in touch with the city’s administration and council and he’s certainly open to taking a look at it.
He cautioned that whatever system is out there, the city needs a guarantee it will work.
“We’re investing public money and I think people want to make sure we spend good money, not bad money,” he said.
Darrell Behan, CEO of Arizona-based Soneera Water, said their system enhances the sewage ponds or lagoons that are part of Lloydminster’s system as well.
“We enhance the ponds so they meet the standards; we take the excess that the sewage ponds are not meeting and we treat that as well,” he said.
The two 40-ft. membranes at Unity can treat a total of 300,000 gallons of water a day, with the current rate at 175,000 gallons per day based on 2017’s population of 2,500.
Behan said until they know what the flow rate of Lloydminster’s system is, they can only guess the total cost, but he said $80 million does not have to be spent now.
“Maybe $15- $20 million is all that needs to be spent to allow the current sewerage ponds using our technology to meet the usage and standards…we can add to our systems as the city grows,” he said.
Aalbers said the city is aware of some new technologies in waste water treatment and said the city’s administration is also tuned in.
“As you can imagine, things are changing fairly rapidly in treatment processes and things like that,” said Aalbers.
“So what we’re doing is engaging a design engineer that will help assist in this process—a specialist, in essence, in waste water management.”
He said the city is going to engage all sorts of options and look at all the options going forward as to what they will proceed with.
Aalbers said because there’s a cost, any new technology that hasn’t been tried at the city’s level, would have to be expandable.
“There’s several criteria to the whole facility,” he said.
The Soneera Memfree system is definitely scalable, but it’s not simply a matter of multiplying Memfree systems required by a population factor.
“There a lot of different variables that go into sizing and a lot of it has to do with the flow that’s coming and where they would like the treated water to go,” said Menger.
Behan estimates a standard aerated sewage system treats 65-70 per cent of the sewage as clean water, leaving about 30-35 per cent as pure waste.
“In our technology, less than five per cent is waste, so out of 100 gallons of water, we will give you back near potable water—we’ll give you back 95 gallons,” he said.
“The other thing is the five per cent waste means we can take it straight to a landfill or farmers can use it as fertilizer.”
Aalbers said there are so many different technologies out there, that he wants to make sure if the city looks at it they “beat it up to death” and make sure it’s the right way to go.
“We waited this long, we better do it right,” he said.

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