Upgraded wastewater treatment plant opens in Hamilton


Published November 9, 2023 at 6:21 pm

Woodward wastewater treatment plant

The city of Hamilton is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly upgraded Woodward Ave. Wastewater Treatment Plant tomorrow.

The treatment plant has seen a $340 million investment from the city, supported by the Ontario and Canadian governments. The investment is the largest of Hamilton’s Clean Harbour Program and their largest single capital investment ever. The project has been ongoing since 2017. Since then the city has spent a collective 2 million labour-hours fixing the place up.

Most of the treated wastewater that flows into Hamilton Harbour comes through the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant and has a direct impact on the entire harbour’s water quality. It is the largest such plant in Canada returning about 350 million litres every day.

As a result, errors at the plant can have a major impact on the harbour. In 2021, “significant wet weather” and “equipment failure” led to 353 million litres of partially or untreated wastewater being discharged into Hamilton Harbour over two days.

“The issue occurred in the screening area of the treatment plant – where two of the plant’s four-bar screens failed and forced a temporary full-plant bypass to avoid permanent damage to the facility and surrounding infrastructure,” read a release from the city at the time. “This was a very unusual circumstance and something the City has not experienced since 2015.”

This bypass was a direct result of the upgrade process as it occurred during the testing of the new main pumping station “the City continued to use the old pumping station during periods of high flow, and as a backup to ensure the new pumping station was operating reliably. It was determined that when the old pumping station was engaged, excessive solids (rags, plastic, etc.) were drawn through the pumps and pumped through the headworks.”

However, now that the installation is complete, such an incident is  “unable to be repeated,” according to the city. Despite some mistakes, the city’s water network is in dire need of these upgrades. It is one of the oldest water systems in Canada and faces additional challenges thanks to the Niagara Escarpment.

The digester complex at the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant specifically, which accepts stormwater and sanitary sewage, last got major upgrades in the 1960s. This is the part of the facility that breaks down solid materials that come from wastewater. The digested materials are treated so they can be transferred to another operation that dries them out before a private company sells them as fertilizer to places such as farms.

The upgrades take the treatment plant from a secondary treatment facility to a tertiary treatment facility which provides “a third more advanced and rigorous level of treatment in order to meet more stringent levels of cleanliness.

The work on the plant will be fully completed by the end of the year. In advance of this, the city is hosting a ceremony to celebrate the end of the six-year process. The ribbon-cutting begins at 9 a.m. Nov. 9

It will feature appearances from Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas MP and  Federal Economic Development Filomena Tassi, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma, Mayor Andrea Horwath, and Hamilton Water Director Nick Winters.

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