Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (June 01, 2010)

June 1, 2010
By Canadian Consulting Engineer


Calgary’s new wastewater treatment plant mimics nature

Calgary officially opened a brand new wastewater treatment plant in May. The $430-million Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Centre was designed by CH2M HILL and is intended to service a population of 1.75 million. The plant now treats up to 100 megalitres of wastewater per day, and it has the infrastructure to expand to 700 megalitres per day.

Located on a 320-acre parcel on the southern edge of the city, the plant will produce “the highest quality of treated effluent of any major city in Western Canada.” Before being discharged into the Bow River, the wastewater is treated with advanced filtration, ultraviolet disinfection and biological nutrient removal (BNR).

The complex incorporates a research facility fitted with equipment modules, and streams that mimic natural flows and pools so that the researchers can examine the behaviour of chemicals and additives in receiving waters.

Wind power provides half the energy used for sewage processing, and methane gas is being harvested to heat the buildings. More than 5,500 m2 of green roofing spans over several of the buildings.

Calgary has two other wastewater plants: Bonnybrook and Fish Creek.


Gulf of Mexico disaster echoes in Canada

After millions of gallons of oil had been gushing for a month from BP’s ruptured Deepwater Horizon well into the Gulf of Mexico, Canada’s federal government decided that there was no chance it would lift the moratorium on offshore oil drilling in B.C. anytime soon. Speaking on May 21, Jim Prentice, federal Environment Minister, told the Vancouver Sun: “We need to be careful with offshore oil drilling. We’re all appalled by what we’re seeing in the Gulf of Mexico.”

U.S. President Barack Obama put on hold any plans for new deep water oil drilling in the Gulf until the cause of the Deepwater Horizon fiasco is known.

Meanwhile, 400 kilometres north of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Chevron Canada has started drilling a deep sea oil well 2.5 kilometres on the floor of the North Atlantic ocean. The Lona O-55 well in the Orphan Basin is the deepest oil well ever drilled in Canadian waters, and is a kilometre deeper than the Deepwater Horizon well.

Following public concerns and questions about the Lona O-55 in the province’s legislature, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the regulator for the offshore industry, announced on May 20 that it would require “special oversight measures” for the Chevron well.

The board said that from now on inspections on board the drilling ship, the Stena Carron, must be every three to four weeks, compared to the current standard requirement of inspections every three to four months.

Chevron has to ensure that it has staff and equipment ready “for rapid deployment” in the case of a spill. As well, the board will now have a representative on board the drilling ship: “to observe the cementing operations of the last casing string set prior to entering any target zones.”

There is debate over whether Canada’s current offshore drilling rules are stricter than those that were in place for the Deepwater Horizon project.


Ontario heads out to clean waters

In May, the Ontario government introduced the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act. The legislation is intended to “make Ontario a North American leader in developing and selling water technologies and services.”

The announcement by Premier Dalton McGuinty came on the 10th anniversary of the Walkerton tragedy, an event which brought a transformation to water treatment in Canada.


B.C. introduces Clean Energy Act with Feed-in-Tariff

The Government of B.C. introduced Bill 17, a new Clean Energy Act, to the B.C. Legislature in April. B.C. Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom said the legislation would encourage the development of renewable energy in the province, and help to ensure it is self-sufficient in energy by 2016.

The bill’s objectives include “streamlined approval processes,” and a Feed-in-Tariff program that would encourage green technology investments. It also proposes the consolidation of BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corporation into a “one-stop” utility.


Zero Carbon City near Abu Dhabi

RWDI consulting engineers of Guelph, Ontario are helping architects to design Masdar City, an astonishing “zero-carbon” development being built in the desert near to Abu Dhabi’s airport.

Michael Roth, P. Eng. of RWDI consulting engineers gave a presentation on the project at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) Climate Change Conference held in Toronto on April 29.

Roth explained that the city is being planned as a “clean technology cluster” for businesses and researchers dedicated to renewable energies.

The city is focused around the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and is laid out in a dense plan of six square miles. It will eventually be occupied by 80,000 workers and 40,000 inhabitants.

Designed by Sir Norman Foster of the U.K., the city reflects traditional Arabian architecture, with narrow canyon-like streets that provide shade and ventilation. Also large triangular wind towers are designed to scoop up air and direct it down into the streets. Photovoltaic panels cover the rooftops and there are solar and wind farms on the city edges. The transit system runs in an “undercroft” below street level. It consists of personal rapid transit vehicles (PRTs) — something like smart cars that run on rails.

RWDI’s role on the project has included providing analysis and modelling of the wind, which will play a vital role in conditioning the city. They also helped analyze the best locations for the photovoltaic panels. Roth explained that the biggest problem with the panels is dust, which “gets everywhere” and has to be systematically removed. Masdar City is designed to last until the year 2050.

Meanwhile China is building an “all-solar” city is Anhui province. The Ningguo-Apollo Solar Energy Community is being built by a PV-industry supplier on a project-by-project basis around a 10 GW solar grid.


Former CEO of Golder Associates dies at age 58

Frederick (Rick) W. Firlotte, a principal and past-global president and chief executive officer of Golder Associates, died peacefully in his sleep on April 18, 2010 at age 58.

From 1999 until mid-2009, Firlotte was president of Golder’s global operations, a time of tremendous growth and change when Golder grew from a 2,000-person operation with offices in 16 countries, to its present 7,000-person operation operating in 40 countries.

Among his other achievements, Firlotte co-founded The Golder Trust for Orphans, which provides support to children and families suffering in the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Firlotte was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick, and he obtained a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering at McGill University. Shortly afterwards, in 1978, he joined Golder’s London, Ontario office. He established Golder’s Montral office in 1989 and oversaw Canadian operations from 1996 until 1999.

According to a company announcement: “Rick … was a leader in the truest sense of the word and will be greatly missed by all those who knew him.”


Sustainability was a dominant characteristic of the projects that won 2010 Awards for Engineering Excellence from Consulting Engineers of B.C. The awards were celebrated on April 24 in Vancouver.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Award went to SNC-Lavalin for the Canada Line Rapid Transit Project, Richmond, B.C. The $1.9 billion, 18.5-km rapid transit line has 16 stations and threads through a complex urban environment using elevated, at grade and underground track.

Awards of Excellence were given to Fast + Epp for the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof; Ausenco Sandwell for
the False Creek Energy Centre, Vancouver; Ausenco Sandwell for the Adriatic Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal Internal Storage Tanks, Porto Levante, Italy; and to Dayton & Knight for a Pilot Test Program for Simultaneous Phosphorus and Carbon Recovery at Salmon Arm’s Water Pollution Control Centre.

Green office building wins top award in Manitoba

Consulting Engineers of Manitoba gave out its 11th Annual Awards of Excellence in April.

Top honour for an engineering project was the Keystone Award, which went to AECOM Canada and Crosier Kilgour Partners for the Manitoba Hydro Downtown Office Building. AECOM were the mechanical and electrical engineers and Crosier Kilgour did the structural engineering on the landmark 22-storey sustainable building.

Awards of excellence went to: John Arnalukjuak School by Accutech Engineering; Forget-Me-Not-Fountain, Waddell Fountain Restoration by Crosier Kilgour & Partners; 1st and Rosser Remediation Project, Brandon, by AECOM; CU HVDC Transmission System, Shunt-filter Bank Replacement Study by Teshmont Consultants; and Pointe du Bois Wastewater Collection System Renewal by KGS Acres.

George Rempel, P. Eng., founder of TetrEs Consultants (recently acquired by Stantec), won the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a member of the first executive that established the Association of Consulting Engineers of Manitoba in 1978. Ralph Kurth, P. Eng., president of Teshmont, was awarded the Engineering Action Award as a practising engineer.


Wastewater rules will require huge reconstruction

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is concerned about pending new federal regulations on wastewater treatment systems. The Minister of the Environment, Jim Prentice, proposed the new municipal wastewater discharge regulations under the Fisheries Act in February.

One new rule is that sewage and stormwater run-off systems are separated, a change that the federation says will affect 400 cities and communities, and will “require the reconstruction or replacement of 1 in 4 of Canada’s wastewater systems.”

The federation’s concern is how to pay for all that reconstruction, especially as the two-year federal Economic Action Plan is winding down. At a meeting of “Big City” mayors in Toronto in May, Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly said that meeting the new sewage pipe rules would mean ripping up virtually every street in the municipality.


September 22-24 —LEDiscovery 2010 Conference and Light Canada Exposition and Conference, Toronto. Held at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. September 23-24 is Light Canada held by the Illuminating Engineering Society, Toronto Section. It has over 100 exhibitors and includes educational seminars on design, technology and case studies. September 22 is LEDiscovery 2010. Both events are part of IiDEX/NeoCon. Tel. 416-960-4517,


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