Metro Vancouver has built the new $9-million Annacis Wastewater Centre as a research hub to study sewage-related science and technology.

Metro hopes scientists flock to new sewage academy

Research aims to improve technologies, tap resources



When it comes to higher learning, the study of sewage may not be the first academic pursuit that springs to mind.

But Metro Vancouver is betting its new $9-million Annacis Wastewater Centre will offer a tempting real-life lab for scientists and engineers while yielding long-term benefits.

It officially opened Oct. 21 at Metro’s biggest sewage treatment plant on Annacis Island.

And Metro officials say it’s just the first in a series of planned sustainability academies where the regional district plans to partner with university researchers and private firms to find leading-edge solutions to regional problems.

Board chair Lois Jackson said the region wants to stop treating sewage simply as a waste.

“Sewage is a source of renewable energy and vital nutrients and the work that will take place in the academy will allow us to find novel and innovative ways to extract these important resources,” she said.

No researchers have moved in so far.

But the first to arrive will be a UBC team exploring how to best reclaim phosphorous – an increasingly scarce commodity needed for fertilizer – from sewage.

The Annacis academy is to examine new ways to capture heat from hot water that goes down the sewers and the potential reuse of reclaimed grey water for purposes like irrigation or toilet flushing.

Another research area is the capture of biogas from local treatment plants to feed into the natural gas grid or generate electricity.

The federal and provincial governments each contributed $3 million and UBC kicked in $500,000, so Metro’s net capital cost was $2.5 million.

UBC civil engineering professor Don Mavinic said the academy is a welcome addition that will allow researchers to test and demonstrate new green technologies.

Planners at Metro hope fees paid by researchers and other consultants to use the centre will cover annual operating costs.

They also predict the capital investment will more than pay for itself by helping the region generate more revenue from resource recovery and rein in the cost of future sewage treatment plants – two plant replacements are on the drawing board at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion.

“A relatively small investment is going to pay off big time for society in the long run,” Metro chief administrator Johnny Carline said.

Separating nutrients and contaminants from sewage and capturing the gases that burp out also helps the environment by reducing ocean pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Other sustainability academies being planned include one dedicated to sustainable food production at Colony Farm Regional Park and another focusing on drinking water treatment technology at the new Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant.

 

Just Posted

Surrey mayor appoints his Safe Surrey Coalition to police transition committee

McCallum dissolved the city’s public safety committee last week in favour of the new committee

Surrey council approves modular housing projects for homeless after lengthy hearing

Vote comes after three-hour-long public hearing over supportive housing projects in Whalley, Guildford

Rollover crash in South Surrey

One person airlifted following incident near 40 Avenue and 160 Street

Annual waterfront border-collie jamboree cancelled following concerns

Restoring water quality in Boundary Bay will require sacrifice: LCWS

‘You don’t want to miss’ the fresh fruit, vegetables at upcoming Cloverdale Market Days

First-of-the-season corn, microgreens, honey, freshly baked goods and much more

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Hazmat incident closes down Lower Mainland street

One person is believed to be dead, police said

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Pride flags stolen from Lower Mainland church

Went missing sometime Friday night, says Maple Ridge reverend

25 new wheelchair-accessible cabins open at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

Maple Bay Campground is now home to 25 new wheelchair friendly cabins, a first for BC Parks

Most Read