Water Treatment Plant

Did You Know . . . Athabasca's new state-of-the-art water treatment facility is now officially open. Guests toured the Aspen Regional Water Treatment Plant on Oct. 15, following opening ceremonies.



Aspen Regional Water Treatment Plant starts up


Brian Brost, CAO for the new Aspen Regional Water Treatment Plant, explains the purpose of a set of controls in the plant.  Raw water from a reservoir adjacent to the plant is pumped into massive pre-treatment clarifier units through the large green pipes.  After pre-treatment, the water passes through a micro-filtration membrane system to remove any remaining solids and pathogens.


Athabasca's new state-of-the-art water treatment facility is now officially open! Area residents and other guests were invited to take tours of the Aspen Regional Water Treatment Plant, located on Wood Heights Road in Athabasca, following opening ceremonies on October 15.


"The official start-up of the water treatment plant was this morning," said Brian Brost, Chief Administrative Officer for the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission, as he led one of the afternoon tour groups on Oct. 15. "We are now testing the system as it pumps water to the Cornwall reservoir."


Behind the plant, to the east, guests could observe the raw water reservoir, an external pond that holds 74,000 cubic metres of water, pumped up from the Athabasca River. The pumping process includes a grinder and cyclone system that removes or neutralizes debris to help protect system components within the treatment plant.


"The reservoir is filling up right now," noted Brian. "We want to fill it as much as possible before freeze up. If the surface freezes when the level is low, it will make it difficult to fill."


The raw water reservoir is lined with a synthetic membrane complete with a fine bubble aeration system. "Fine air diffusion helps to improve the water quality before it is pumped into the plant," Brian explained.


Once in the plant, the aerated raw water begins to go through an elaborate process of purification, beginning with a "clarifier train," a pre-treatment system that includes flocculation, clarification and high rate sedimentation. The purpose of the clarifier is to remove suspended solids and organic material in order to minimize the amount of unwanted particles moving through to the next stage of processing.


"We're moving about 20 litres of water per second through the clarifier," said Brian. "We can process just under eight mega litres of water per day. We have three clarifier trains, with room for future expansion to bring in another one."


From pre-treatment, the water is pumped into an equalization tank, and then into a row of micro-filtration membrane cartridges where any remaining solids and pathogens are removed. The treated water then goes through a disinfection process and flows into a holding tank, a "baffled clearwell reservoir" located beneath the water treatment plant.


"The reservoir is fourteen feet deep and holds just under 3,000 cubic metres of treated water," noted Brian.


From there, distribution pumps send the potable quality water out to the regional distribution system which will include the Cornwall reservoir, the Colinton reservoir and the Boyle reservoir.


Brian pointed out notable features of the new treatment plant that include variable frequency drives to modulate power usage; a "smart" lighting system with some fixtures that are motion activated and that can be programmed to power up selected bulbs; a solar wall that pre-heats ventilation air for the process building; and a secure computer system that monitors all functions in the plant.


The computer system includes remote monitoring so an operator can keep an eye on the treatment plant from offsite. Remote monitoring is for viewing purposes only and does not allow security access to any plant controls.


"There are many security measures in place to protect the computer system," Brian assured.


The new water treatment plant employs an operations manager, four operators, an administration services coordinator, and Brian as the CAO.


New water plant a co-operative effort


Development of the plant was a co-operative effort between the Town of Athabasca, Athabasca County and the Village of Boyle. The cost to each of the municipalities for their share of the project was based on their municipality's percentage of water use. The project received provincial funding support via Alberta's "Water for Life Strategy."


The water treatment plant is governed by the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission and the partnering municipalities will now purchase water from the Commission. Town of Athabasca residents pay only for the operation of the plant and for the water they use. Town residents do not pay for the pipelines going out into the county.


Now that the new treatment plant is officially open, a review of the water rates will be included on the Town Council agenda.


Back to main page

Text-Size: AAA