April 3, 2006

First recycled water line in Canada sets new standard for environmental best practices

A new recycled water line from Edmonton's Gold Bar wastewater treatment plant will reduce the amount of water drawn directly from the North Saskatchewan River while providing high-quality process water for Petro-Canada's Strathcona County refinery. The 5.5-kilometre pipeline, the first of its kind in Canada, sets a new standard for environmental best practices. The project also represents the largest membrane-based water re-use facility in the country.

Petro-Canada funded the entire $25-million capital cost of the project, including the membrane treatment system and pump station at the Gold Bar plant, which accounted for about $13 million of the total cost. The innovative public-private partnership involving Edmonton, Petro-Canada and Strathcona County was negotiated after the company opted against building its own on-site wastewater treatment plant.

The pipeline will divert treated municipal wastewater from the Gold Bar plant to the refinery. The membrane-treated water is cleaner than the wastewater formerly returned to the river at Gold Bar. Petro-Canada will use the recycled water in the production of fuels complying with new federal regulations for low-sulfur fuels. Water will also be delivered to Petro-Canada's designates, including Air Products, for use in hydrogen production.

By 2008, use of this water will also enable the processing of other feedstocks, such as bitumen and bitumen-derived crude, at the refinery. At that point, Petro-Canada will be using 13,000 cubic metres of recycled water per day. Under the water line arrangement, Strathcona County will purchase the recycled water, operate and maintain the pipeline on behalf of Petro-Canada, and deliver the water to the refinery.

About 30% of the water used for refining processes will be returned to the North Saskatchewan River through the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Treatment Plant. An equal amount will evaporate or be vented into the atmosphere as steam, with the remainder converted to hydrogen of condensed and re-used as boiler feed water within the refinery.

In addition to meeting Petro-Canada's water needs, the project will provide surplus water for other users along the river valley, including the Sunridge and Nordic ski clubs for snowmaking and the parks system for irrigation and pond recharging.

"The unique project serves as a model for other industries and municipalities and has proven to be a win-win business relationship," said Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. "The treated water meets Petro-Canada's industrial requirements, while the City benefits through enhanced water quality and improved plant capacity with no extra costs to our taxpayers," he added.

Edmonton has granted the company a 25-year non-exclusive right and licence to use municipal rights of way for its recycled water line. The city will charge for the recycled water on a cost-recovery basis.

The Gold Bar treatment facility is one of the most advanced in North America. The city began investigating the use of membrane filtration for advanced wastewater treatment in the late 1990s and realized its potential application for recycling water for industrial, manufacturing and recreational uses.

Edmonton's commitment to membrane filtration coincided with Petro-Canada's need for a secure, high-quality source of process water. When fully operational, the new membrane filtration facility will be capable of producing up to 40,000 cubic metres per day of industrial-grade water. The design of the water line allows for future tie-ins by industrial uses wishing access to the recycled water.

The recycled water line project has won awards from community groups and from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta. Both Environment Canada and Alberta Environment have cited the project as a model for best water use, the latter singling it out as exemplifying implementation of the province's Water for Life strategy.

More information is available from Chris Dawson, senior advisor at Petro-Canada, 403/296-4270, or Chris Ward, water line project manager for the city of Edmonton, 780/496-5567.

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