Crossfield Town councillors are weighing the pros and cons of commissioning a water filtration company’s wastewater treatment technology.
After conducting a pilot project with Swirltex’s two-part filtration technology in 2019 and 2020, the Town of Crossfield will soon decide whether or not to invest in the Calgary-based company’s mobile containerized unit for its wastewater treatment.
Swirltex representatives Melanie McClare and Peter Christou were at Crossfield Town council on March 16 for a presentation on the company’s filtration system, which features a containerized unit, a micro-diffuser and membrane component.
“The technology itself is a really novel approach to membrane filtration,” said McClare, the chief executive officer of Swirltex. “A membrane is a high-tech nanomaterial that has small holes that allow [certain materials] to pass through but keeps contaminants behind.”
According to a previous press release from the Town, Swirltex builds custom wastewater treatment systems and has developed a “proprietary technology that enables wastewater to be recycled to a very high quality,” in a cost-effective manner.
In 2019 and 2020, Crossfield’s local golf course – Collicutt Siding Golf Course – used the company’s treated effluent for its irrigation and has committed to using 180,000 cubic metres of treated water, per year.
According to McClare, the use of Swirltex’s technology would not only benefit the golf course but also solve Crossfield’s current issue of discharging wastewater into Nose Creek. Without a full-fledged water treatment plant, the Town has weighed various options to deal with this issue, including a $40-million wastewater pipeline from Crossfield to Airdrie.
“We discharged at 20 million litres a day over a 21-day period,” McClare said. “This causes some issues downstream for the watershed... Unfortunately, the Town didn’t have a lot of viable options.”
In terms of the technology’s price tag, going with Swirltex would cost the Town about $621,000, according to a staff report at the March 16 meeting. The costs would support retrofitting the company’s existing containerized unit and expanding capacity to 1,000 cubic metres a day. According to McClare, that is a discounted price, as Swirltex obtained a Green Municipal Fund grant in November 2020 from the federal government.
After listening to Swirltex's presentation at the March 16 meeting, Couns. Justin Gustafson and Kim Harris asked the company reps several questions about the benefits of the technology, the cost compared to other wastewater treatment options and other details.
Both councillors brought up the idea Swirltex is a good short-term solution for the next five or so years, but that Crossfield would eventually have to find another solution for its wastewater treatment.
“Are we taking too big of a step when it comes to an asset like this?” Gustafson asked.
After the meeting, Mayor Jo Tennant said council members will continue to deliberate whether or not to invest in Swirltex’s technology.
“We want to make sure the money we would put into it is worthwhile over the period of time it would address our needs,” she said, adding she has now seen Swirltex's presentation multiple times and likes what the company is proposing.
“If they’re the same as what I believe to have heard in the past…I think it meets the needs for several years and would be the most economic option at this time.”