Solar aquatics for Barriere – not sewage treatment as usual

District of Barriere to spend $6.7 million grant to install high tech sewage system

As aging infrastructure fails, many western Canadian cities, towns and regional governments are looking at new ways of sewage treatment that are more environmentally sensitive. One such community is District of Barriere, which recently received a $6.7 million grant from Canada’s Gas Tax Fund to install a wastewater system for the downtown core.

In preparation for the project, the district held a public information session on Jan. 24. Dave Underwood from TRU Consulting, and Patrick Meyer, chief operations officer for Eco-Tek, presented an overview and answered questions about the proposed solar aquatics wastewater treatment system that will be built in downtown Barriere during the coming months.

Underwood outlined the four major components of the system: the wastewater collection system, the septage receiving facility, the treatment plant, and the effluent discharge. He then turned the meeting over to Meyer, who went into detail for the approximately 35 people in attendance about the third component – the treatment plant.

A solar aquatics system (SAS) treats raw sewage and other wastewater with biological methods using plant and bacterial life. The process produces no foul odor, uses no chemicals, and treats everything that comes into the facility, both liquids and solids.

The Solar Aquatics System is designed to duplicate the natural purifying processes of streams and wetlands within a climate controlled, regionally-appropriate solarium, greenhouse, or shade house.

The tertiary sewage treatment process is typically completed in two to four days during which time contaminants are metabolized and bound up and complex organic compounds (such as fats, proteins and starches) and certain inorganic compounds are transformed into simple soluble compounds and biomass.

Within the Solar Aquatics System ammonia is oxidized into nitrate by nitrifying bacteria and is directly metabolized by algae and higher plants. While algae and plants metabolize nutrients, snails and zooplankton graze on solids.

The small amount of solids that remain at the end of the system are active colonies of bacteria which are then pumped to the front of the system to aid in the treatment of the new sewage coming into the system.

There is no waste. Nothing needs to be trucked away, whereas conventional treatment is smelly, uses chemicals, and often requires trucking solids to landfill or composting.

Close to 235 properties will be within the one-mile radius around the firehall, where the system will be situated, with the first phase of the treatment system going as far as the Petro station. The district has plans for a phase two that will go as far as the Esso station, but that has no dedicated time frame at this time.

Those in attendance were told that as soon as the snow melts phase one would start with land surveys in the area.

Question time produced a lot of good questions, and for the most part residents seem to be all in favor of installing this state of the art system. The district noted that the grant received will cover the cost of the bringing the system to property lines, and it will be at the homeowners cost to hook into the system.


The district also assured citizens that there would be more public information sessions as decisions are made and planning can be brought forward.

– Barriere Star Journal