New water treatment plant opens in Dawson Creek

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Director of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Kevin Henderson says the new facility will take away the need for oil and gas companies to draw from local fresh water sources.

"What this means is we're going to be able to take some of that demand off the portable water side and transfer that over to the reclaimed water side," he explains. "So it's going to take some of that strain off our potable water system for sure."

The project was built in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, and in exchange for funding the majority of it, the company is provided with a portion of the treated water. Shell has a facility on site as well, and can take up to 3,400 cubic metres per day to pump to its Groundbirch gas field for use in fracking.

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"We are virtually eliminating the amount of fresh water used for our operations, providing the City with an additional source of revenue and reducing three million kilometres a year in truck traffic from local roads," says Lorraine Mitchelmore, Shell Canada President and Country Chair.

However, Henderson says Shell has only been taking around 2,500 cubic metres a day on average so far. The facility has a capacity of approximately 4,500 cubic metres daily, so in about a month, the City will also be able to sell the remainder of the treated water from a truck station at the facility to other service companies that would normally haul in water.

"There's going to be definitely an excess that we're going to have the ability to market and that's going to greatly offset the demand on our water system," argues Henderson.

He says the idea for this facility has been in the works for a number of years, to try and lessen the load on the city's water system.

"This stemmed from a very similar situation as we're sitting in today," he explains. "Back in 2006 we had a drought, a very dry year, river flows were low, and it really spurred a number of us here at the City to put our heads together and start to look at alternatives and how we could do things differently."

The idea of using somewhat already treated effluent from the lagoons went through feasibility studies, and ended up with the facility opened today.

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A video from Shell explaining the Dawson Creek Reclaimed Water Project is below.

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