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2006 Wastewater

City of Edmonton

Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plan Industrial Water Reuse

Population: 666,104

Rather than draw 15 million litres of fresh water per day from the North Saskatchewan River for its refinery processes, Petro-Canada and the City of Edmonton developed an innovative partnership to reuse wastewater effluent. The newly constructed membrane treatment facility at the Gold Bar plant, which also uses methane gas from wastewater sludge to heat the facility, is connected to Petro-Canada's refinery via a 5.5-kilometre pipeline. Once the effluent reaches the refinery, it is used to produce hydrogen and steam, which in turn produces low-sulphur diesel fuels. With the pipeline running through a river valley that contains three local parks, a portion of the reused wastewater stocks the parks' lakes and ponds and is used for irrigation and snowmaking.


Edmonton has earned a reputation as an environmental leader. As far back as 1991, the City adopted an environmental mission statement that requires all City departments to take an integrated approach to environmental planning and decision making, and to seek continual improvement in all its operations. In 2005, Edmonton became one of two Canadian cities to complete all five milestones in FCM's PCP program.

Edmonton is home to the only research facility in Canada that specializes in waste management. The Waste Management Centre of Excellence is a collaborative hub for innovative research, technology development and training. It allows researchers to study a variety of waste management issues, including research into composting methods, recycling street sand, and new wastewater treatment technologies.

Edmonton's commitment to excellence prompted the Sierra Legal Defence Fund to award the City top marks in wastewater treatment, making it one of only three Canadian cities to achieve an "A" grade or better.


  • Both the membrane plant and pipeline are heated by Gold Bar's existing biogas utilization system. Prior to building the new membrane plant, the biogas plant produced a surplus of heat. The membrane plant and pipeline use this free heat, thus improving the efficiency of the overall system. "The annual savings in harnessing biogas is equivalent to $1.5 million worth of natural gas," says Mr. Mohammed.
  • In recent years, budgets for two neighbouring parks, Gold Bar and Rundle, suffered cutbacks. Anticipating the new technology, Drainage Services worked with City Parks officials to restore liners in the parks' lakes. The lakes are now continuously stocked with recycled water.
  • The treatment plant has improved its ability to meet future maximum daily contaminant discharge limits. The quality of plant process water has also improved, lowering the facility's use of potable water.
  • The City has gained the expertise and experience to establish new partnerships with other users of recycled water. The project also allows the City to expand the use of recycled water to municipal applications, such as irrigation of city parks.
  • The Alberta Toxics Watch Society praised the City and Petro-Canada for the project. "We want to see more of this industrial ecology approach where facilities partner with each other to take a waste stream out of one and turn it into a feedstock for another," says Myles Kitagawa, the Society's Associate Director.
  • The project has received awards from the Association of Professional Engineers, the Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta, the Consulting Engineers of Alberta, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. It has also been listed as a finalist for an award created by the Alberta Emerald Foundation for Environmental Excellence.

Lessons Learned

  • BE PROACTIVE. Mr. Mohammed believes that taking a proactive stance with the City's stakeholders and the public and going beyond what was expected or mandated earned support for the project. "This will surely help widen the acceptance of wastewater reuse," he says.
  • SHARE THE MESSAGE. Both the City and Petro-Canada actively informed the media and local residents. "We spread the message jointly and that made it all the more believable," says Mr. Mohammed. Telling the public about the project's status in a timely manner, particularly residents who would be most affected, worked in the City's favour. Gaining public support was especially important, given that the pipeline ran through an environmentally sensitive area (the river valley) and a busy recreational corridor.
  • TESTING IS CRUCIAL. "Pilot testing and needs assessment were essential to success of this project," says Mr. Mohammed. "We needed to keep in mind the needs of our external customers but also our own needs, now and in the future. We now have the capability to assist other municipalities and wastewater operators in similar projects."

Partners and Collaboration


  • City of Edmonton departments, including the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant, Drainage Services, Planning and Development, and Community Services


  • Petro-Canada
  • ZENON Environmental
Page Updated: 21/12/2015