Cutting $8 million from a sewage treatment plant proposal is a little like shopping for groceries, says Elvio Zaghi.
Look for small savings, and watch them add up.
“If you want to save $1 million on a large project, find 50 ways of saving $20,000,” he said.
The Stantec engineer was a speaker at Thursday’s Sarnia-Lambton Water Symposium, touting the environmental and economic accomplishments at the soon-to-be operational Grand Bend Area Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Sewage is set to start flowing into the $14-million treatment plant north of Grand Bend Monday, improving the quality of water returned to Lake Huron from the Lambton Shores and South Huron areas, and in a fraction of the time, Zaghi said.
An existing lagoon system that lets sewage decompose naturally takes six months, he said.
But the new facility uses biological treatment and fine filters to return better quality water within approximately 30 hours.
The long-awaited project came to Stantec about two years ago after an initial $22-million proposal couldn’t get the required funding, he said.
They dropped the cost by implementing sustainable infrastructure tenets through Envision, an Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure certification.
Some examples include using pre-engineered buildings with recycled metal, using less concrete in biological treatment tanks, diverting heat generated from electrical panels to help heat the plant, and keeping cooling costs down by deflecting summer heat with a light-coloured roof, Zaghi said.
Stantec also created a wetland after digging holes to build up the property, and has put together a children’s activity book about water ecosystems to help add value back to the community, he said.
Bettering communities economically, environmentally and socially is what Envision is about, he said, in his presentation to symposium goers.
“It’s about getting the best return for environmental sustainability,” he said, adding, “You can do a green project affordably.”
In fact, he said, being green can save money and time.
The treatment plant earned distinction last year as the first in Canada to earn the Envision Platinum Award.
A grand opening event is tentatively planned for June 14.
Meanwhile, turnout at this year’s sophomore Lambton College-hosted symposium was up to 130 from 100 in 2015, and with a lot more out-of-town industrial and academic representatives, said Mehdi Sheikhzadeh, dean of applied research and innovation at Lambton College.
The symposium, one held earlier this year on energy, and another in the works for fall on biotechnology — local strengths — are all about bringing industries, academe and governments together, Sheikhzadeh said.
They’re about building connections for the area, creating opportunities to commercialize and develop technologies, he said.
“The goal is building a platform to build projects, build partnerships, to share knowledge, to learn from each other, and at the same time ultimately to have a social and economic impact for the community and beyond,” he said.