The rapidly growing City of Cranbrook has upgraded its wastewater systems to improve effluent quality, reduce operating costs, cut GHG emissions and allow for population growth over the next 20 years.

Cranbrook's current wastewater treatment system, which was cutting-edge when it was built more than 40 years ago, uses reclaimed water to irrigate agricultural lands, boosting the local economy. Building on that legacy, the upgrades include a new storage pond, and aeration and disinfecting equipment that that treat sewage with natural biochemical processes. Reclaimed water from the improved system exceeds health and safety standards and can be used to irrigate recreational as well as agricultural lands.

Restoring and upgrading Cranbrook's existing facility has created a showpiece for efficient wastewater management. The upgraded system produces lower GHG emissions, uses less power and has significantly lower operating costs.

Cranbook's wastewater improvement project was the 2012 FCM Sustainable Communities Awards winner for water.


Environmental Economic Social
  • Annual GHG emissions have been reduced by 75% for lagoons and 54% for storage ponds
  • Treated wastewater has fewer  suspended solids and less phosphorous, coliform and residual chlorine
  • Operating costs, including power consumption, have been reduced by 42 % annually
  • Reclaiming water for irrigation reduces demand for potable water and boosts local agriculture.
  • Upgrade provides capacity for at least 20 years of population growth
  • 1,000 ha water treatment site has become a recreational area and provides habitat for many wildlife species


  • Engaging the entire community in the project was a challenge. Council emphasised building relationships within the community and surrounding area and with stakeholders including provincial agencies and local First Nations.

Lessons learned

  • Ensure that you have clear lines of communications between regulators, designers, staff, contractors and stakeholders.
  • Hold monthly meetings with regulators to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Think long term and go beyond conventional and accepted solutions.

Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Maryse Leroux 
Policy Analyst
City of Cranbrook, B.C.
T. 250-489-0239

© 2020 Federation of Canadian Municipalities