Waste Treatment in Calgary

As part of my Industrial Process and Pollution Control Measures class at SAIT, I had a chance to tour the Bonnybrook Waste Treatment Facility in South Calgary today. What an interesting trip! We got to see the entire process from headworks to outflow.

Quite honestly I have never smelled anything quite so foul as inside the headworks building, retching – and nearly throwing up – about three times. If you ever have the chance to go to such a place, I can suggest to take very small breaths. Try not to breath through your mouth, because then you taste everything – this is far worse than smelling it!

One thing this field trip changed my mind about is the use of garbage disposal units in the kitchen sink. I had always assumed that they were a good thing, reducing the amount going into the landfill. But, of course, removing a burden from one place only put a burden on another. The best option, of course, is to compost your kitchen waste. Putting it down the sink simply adds to load at the waste treatment plant. I found out today that the Bonnybrook plant is one of the largest consumers of power in Calgary.  Burning digester gas (primarily methane, but there is some carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide as well), the plant is able to produce one-third of its power demand.  So, of course, if you can reduce the load on the treatment facility, all the better!

Anyway, I neglected to take my camera with me, but some friends did get some good pictures. I will see if I can post some of them here soon.

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