A first look inside the McLoughlin Point Sewage Treatment Plant

A first look inside the McLoughlin Point Sewage Treatment Plant
WatchCHEK's Joe Perkins got an inside look at the new McLoughlin Point Sewage Treatment Plant which is still under construction.

It’s the crown jewel of the Capital region’s $775-million sewage treatment project and it’s nearing its federally mandated finish line.

The project has been in construction since 2017, five years after the federal government introduced legislation requiring the Capital Regional District to build a sewage treatment plant. The regulations required the site to be operating by the end of this year.

Recently, CHEK News was offered a tour of the facility and the first look inside the more than $300 million dollar site to see where construction is at.

Here’s a brief overview of how the McLoughlin Point Plant works.

Instead of screening the CRD’s sewage at the Clover and Macaulay Pump stations and pumping wastewater into the Strait of Juan De Fuca, all of the region’s wastewater will eventually be directed to the McLoughlin Point Plant.

When it arrives, it will go through primary, secondary and tertiary treatment before being discharged into the ocean through a new outfall approximately two-kilometres from shore and 60-metres deep. All of the solids remaining will be sent to a new Residuals Treatment Facility at Hartland Landfill where they will be converted into Class A biosolids.

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Although the plant still looks more like a construction site then a sewage facility, the project’s manager says work is on schedule and the plant will be operational before the December 31st deadline.

“A lot of the work now is electrical and mechanical and a lot of the major equipment is now in place,” says project manager Elizabeth Scott.

According to Scott, before the summer is over the site will undergo its first trial run to ensure everything is in working order.

“Every piece of equipment from the pumps to the odour control system will be tested to confirm that it meets the performance requirements,” she says.

The plant’s state-of-the-art odour control room is largely finished. All of the air during the treatment process is captured using lightweight reinforced fiberglass lids that contain the air and direct it to an odour control room where it is treated and released, similar to the sewage process. Scott says the odour system has been designed so there will be no detectable smell by nearby residents and says the odour process will be monitored by staff 24/7.

With some of the plant’s finishing work still under construction, it’s difficult to get a sense of what the final plant design will look like but the project team says it will be a modern mix of concrete finishes.

“There was a push and pull through the design process between people who wanted it to be the Sidney Opera House of Victoria and people who didn’t want it to be as prominent,” says Scott.

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When the final touches are put on the exterior Scott says it will be “striking” and believes people in the region will be proud of it.

One of the sites more stunning features is a green roof and observation deck. The self-sustaining garden on the rooftop was one of the amenities added to the project so it would have an environmental and sustainability element. The project team hopes the area will become an educational space and says the garden will be maintained by the small staff team who will work at the site once it is operational.

As for accessing the plant located off Victoria View Road at McLoughlin Point, a one-way semi-circle road has been constructed to allow vehicles to drive through the facility. A small parking will be located next to a public lobby which is in the same building that contains a laboratory, storage space, as well as a machine and welding shop. The one-way road runs down the inside of the plant and separates the staff facilities from the sewage treatment area.

RELATED: Capital Regional District board votes down Europe trip to study sewage treatment

Once complete the structural design of the plant is expected to last 75 years. Staff say he equipment will have a service life between 10 to 25 years.

The original price tag for the entire sewage treatment project was initially $765 million but in 2019 the project team announced it would cost $10 million more than expected. The team says the budget is still at $775 million.

The provincial and federal governments are covering $459 million of final cost with local taxpayers covering the rest.

Tomorrow CHEK News will go inside the newly built pump station at Macaulay Point as well as the renovated Clover Point Pump Station to see where the CRD’s sewage goes before it reaches the McLoughlin Point Treatment Plant.

Joe PerkinsJoe Perkins

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