Federated Co-op’s WIP uses leading-edge technology to clean and recycle wastewater

Jul 11, 2019   | Categories: Energy, Environment, Fuels, Lower Carbon Future, Refineries
This is the second entry in our series “A Greener Path Forward: Innovations in Refining”. Make sure to check back over the next few weeks to learn more about: carbon capture. You can read the first article on co-processing here.

In today’s article, we share our recent Q&A interview with – Gil Le Dressay, Federated Co-operatives Limited’s Vice-President of Refinery Operations – so we can learn more about Federated Co-op’s Wastewater Improvement Project (WIP).

Q: When we last spoke to someone at Federated in 2016, the Wastewater Improvement Project was projected to be fully operational a few months down the road. Since being fully implemented, the WIP has allowed the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) to recycle 100% of wastewater and earned it provincial, national and international recognition for the industry-leading engineering work behind it and the demonstrated commitment to sustainability. Tell us what this journey has been like and how wastewater management continues to fit into your future plans.   

A: A lot has happened since 2016 and our wastewater project has received many accolades for being the first wastewater facility in North America with the ability to clean and recycle refinery wastewater for the purpose of steam production. As an organization, we are honoured to have received awards from industry groups, national associations and even an international association. Each award has recognized the WIP for our commitment to water stewardship, ingenuity and a sustainable future.

Like any new project, there was a learning curve and adjustments were made over the years to ensure optimal operations. The result is that we continue to clean and recycle our wastewater for the purpose of steam production, and that’s a huge win for our refinery, our community and our industry.

Q: In practical terms, what is wastewater management and how does it contribute to the sustainability efforts of a refinery?

A: Our wastewater management practices are all about maintaining and reducing our reliance on ground water and municipal water resources. We have underground aquifers that support the refinery. That said, they are limited to a certain flow rate and once that occurs, we must use City of Regina water. Ultimately, our goal is to free up the water we draw from the city and aquifers by recycling our own water. The WIP has capacity to recycle about 1,500 gallons per minute (GPM). On an annual basis, that is the equivalent of about 3,100 households in the City of Regina. That means that water is now free for our municipality and our province to support other initiatives that require a water source, from new neighbourhoods to new businesses looking to locate in Regina.  

The WIP also reduces our water effluent output as we are now recycling the effluent and reusing it in our operations. Ultimately, our goal is to become a zero discharge facility. This means that not a drop of water leaves our site for other destinations, such as the City of Regina’s Water Treatment facilities. In turn, this will benefit our neighbours in the local community by freeing up City water treatment capacity for growth. 

Finally, the WIP plays a key role in reducing the Volatile Organic Compounds emitted from our wastewater facilities. This is extremely important from an environmental sustainability standpoint as the project will ensure we lower overall emissions from our refinery site.  

Q: What kind of accommodations need to take place in a refinery to allow them the ability to recycle their wastewater?  What can be done with the recycled wastewater?

A: Every facility is unique and each of our peers in the refining industry decides for themselves how to best meet their water requirements and where recycled water can fit their process. At CRC, we have determined that replacing fresh water for steam production was our highest use of water, and our WIP makes the most sense for our facility, our people and to meet our sustainability goals.

In terms of what can be done with wastewater, we believe we have taken wastewater usage to the next level. Cleaning wastewater so that it is of a high enough quality to be used in a refineries steam system is a tall task, but our WIP project does just that. As part of the WIP project, we also revamped our demineralization plant to ensure the water is almost entirely free of impurities and so it does not scale on our equipment and cause internal damage. Therefore, our wastewater can be used in any of the steam processes that require water on site.

Q: The implementation of this program has had a very real and measurable impact on your community. Can you tell us about that?

In addition to our answer above (Sustainability), we want to reiterate that the wastewater ponds are cleaner and have less odours. When water is discharged to the city, it is much cleaner and we’re using less water.

Q: Sustainability; as it pertains to people, the environment and the community is central to how Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-op Refinery Complex conducts business. Why is it important and in what other ways does it show up in your day to day activities?

A: For FCL and CRC, sustainability is all about investing in our communities, the environment and remaining financially viable to ensure we are creating jobs and continuing to be an economic engine for the communities we serve and for the province. We invest in local charitable and community initiatives. We invest in environmentally-sustainable initiatives such as the WIP. And, we invest heavily in our facility to meet the requirements of changing regulations, ultimately ensuring we are in business and creating jobs – now and well into the future. Our Refinery is a part of a much bigger system – The Co-operative Retailing System. With more than 170 Co-ops in 500 communities across Western Canada, the CRS is helping to Build Sustainable Communities across Western Canada.  Together, the CRC will play an integral role in supporting that shared vision and by ensuring we do our part to Fuel Western Canada.

To learn more about the Wastewater Improvement Project, watch this video:
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