In the world of wastewater treatment, Whistler has always been ahead of the game. Before the construction of Whistler Village began in 1978, the community had already built a sewage treatment plant the year before.
Forty years later, the Resort Municipality of Whistler operates one of the most advanced wastewater treatment facilities in Canada.
At first glance, the wastewater treatment plant seems like your average municipal system but take a closer look and you'll be surprised. With its most recent major upgrade and addition of the district energy system, the wastewater treatment plant became one of the lasting legacies of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
During its journey, the inherent temperature of the wastewater actually provides space and water heating for the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90 to 95 percent compared to traditional methods. It all starts with a flush.
Whistler's wastewater treatment plant was designed with sustainability in mind. Sustainable elements include changing the treatment process to eliminate the need for chemicals through the use of microbes.
These microbes reduce nitrogen and ammonia toxicity, which in turn minimizes impacts to the Cheakamus River. Ultra violet disinfection is also used to reduce reliance on chemicals such as chlorine. UV disinfection delivers up to 1,000 times the level of protection over standard treatment against waterborne diseases such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Before the treated water flows back into the Cheakamus River, it does something rather remarkable – it provides space and water heating for the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.
This District Energy System (DES) is one of the highest profile aspects of the RMOW’s waste management system and earned the 2009 CAMA (Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators) Environmental Award as well as the 2008 Community Energy Association’s Energy Action Award for Community Planning and Development.
The unique system extracts low-temperature ambient heat from treated wastewater effluent, making the system flexible enough to provide both heating and cooling for approximately 2,200 users occupying 85,000 square meters of space.
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