Nutrient removal is a tricky issue, especially in a changing climate. Phosphorus and nitrogen loads coming from point and non-point sources can lead to serious source water challenges, such as algal blooms in lakes that make water unsafe for consumption and threaten healthy ecosystems.
In recent years, the Canadian government has placed an increased focus on the discharge of wastewater to the environment. Across the country, many small municipalities have either no wastewater treatment facilities, or facilities that are deficient or over their capacity. With the new Wastewater System Effluent Regulations, many treatment facilities will require substantial upgrades, new builds, and retrofits. Depending on the solution that they choose, the process can be costly and often requires a large footprint on properties where space is at a premium.
Based in Renfrew, Ontario, Bishop Water Technologies is approaching nutrient removal with these constraints in mind. The company’s attached growth BioCord Reactor Technology creates a “condominium for bacteria,” says company owner Kevin Bossy.
“With high-strength waste, one of the challenges is having enough surface area for bacteria to break down organics in a relatively short amount of time,” he explains. “Our solution increases that surface area, but also decreases the required footprint.”
BioCord Reactors are made with a substrate that allows symbiotic layers of bacteria to develop, mirroring the process that occurs in nature to degrade organics. The cord-like structure of the solution maximizes surface area and allows more treatment biomass to develop, increasing the level of treatment in the system.
Case study: The Légumier Du Madawaska
Bossy says the BioCord is adaptable for several scenarios, including municipal, industrial, and agricultural applications. Recently, the Bishop solution has helped address a challenge for a New Brunswick-based vegetable processing facility called the Légumier Du Madawaska.
The facility had installed a system of four septic tanks to improve the treatment of its wastewater. While effective at removing suspended solids, the system required further treatment to deal with the dissolved organics and increase the pH to the level required by the New Brunswick Department of the Environment.
After examining several alternatives, the Légumier decided to install the BioCord Reactor Technology into the existing four-tank septic system. Bishop prepared the full design of the new system, including the aeration diffuser system and blower, stainless steel suspension brackets, and BioCord material. The company also designed and calibrated the pH adjustment system.
In partnership with Complete Energy Systems of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, installation occurred over two days. Proper scheduling allowed the Légumier to maintain full production while the installation was proceeding. Early results show that the fixed film system is effective for the retrofit of small industrial wastewater treatment systems. The solution is quick, simple, and cost-effective, and it can be done with existing tankage.
The benefits of a supportive innovation ecosystem
Since the Légumier project, Bishop has seen a great deal of interest in the solution and is working closely with Ontario municipalities on pilot projects.
Bossy says support from Ontario and Canada have put the company on a path to success. With funding from provincial and federal programs and support from academic institutions, Bishop has invested in R&D to advance the growth of its technologies. In just two or three years, the company has grown from three to 11 full-time employees and this year, it reported revenue growth of 15% over last year.
Bossy also points to WaterTAP and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium as key supporters, and credits Ontario’s Water Opportunities Act (2010) for putting a strong emphasis on the province’s water innovation ecosystem. “Having access to sector-specific business support has helped us move our technologies forward,” he says. “The appetite for innovative solutions is much more aggressive than we when started this business eight years ago.”