Fort Whyte Centre and partners build wastewater treatment system

Construction begins today at the Fort Whyte Centre on Winnipeg's first wastewater treatment system that includes both a constructed wetland to help purify the waters, and aeration to eliminate odors.

System harnesses a wetland's natural ability to purify water

WINNIPEG, MB, July 24, 2001 — Construction begins today at the Fort Whyte Centre on Winnipeg's first wastewater treatment system that includes both a constructed wetland to help purify the waters, and aeration to eliminate odors.

The three-acre project at the environmental education center will be completed in September at a cost of $135,000. Technical and financial assistance have been provided by public and private sector partners including Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Manitoba Conservation and Ducks Unlimited.

Bill Elliott, CEO of the Fort Whyte Centre, said the project will enable the center to take responsibility for complete management of its own wastewater. "Until now, our wastewater has been trucked to a city treatment facility. The system we're building will reduce loading on the Winnipeg plant, and Fort Whyte will redirect the cost savings into education programs. This is a positive development for everyone."

An aeration system placed along the bottom of the primary and secondary cells will imitate the action of naturally flowing water in breaking down waste. Air bubbling to the surface will eliminate odors and enable the system to operate even through winter. Funding for the aeration system was provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA). "PFRA is proud to be a partner in this initiative," noted Stella Fedeniuk, acting regional director for PFRA. "We were also happy to provide assistance in preparing the environmental assessment to ensure the project meets all wastewater treatment regulations."

The third cell will be a constructed wetland containing marsh plants and a range of organisms that will complete the water purification process. Rod Fowler, executive vice-president for Ducks Unlimited, predicted that water leaving the wetland will be cleaner than the lake it flows into. He also noted the exceptional education opportunities the wetland will provide. "This marsh cell will become an intriguing outdoor classroom where visitors to Fort Whyte will learn about the vital contribution that wetlands make to clean water supplies," he said.

MLA Cris Aglugub, speaking on behalf of Manitoba Conservation Minister Oscar Lathlin, pointed out that environmental education and awareness contributes to a healthy environment. "Through the Sustainable Development Innovations Fund the provincial government is pleased to contribute $50,000 towards the creation of the Fort Whyte Centre's wastewater treatment system that will also help demonstrate the important role wetlands play in providing wildlife habitat as well as for filtering and purifying water."

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