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Phosphorus recovery piloted in Portage la Prairie

By Johnna Ruocco, The Graphic

Portage la Prairie is testing new systems to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from Lake Winnipeg.

A pilot program at the Portage la Prairie Water Pollution Control Facility is evaluating new technology to help manage nutrient loads treated at the plant, including one developed by Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies that recovers phosphorus from treated wastewater streams and transforms it into an eco-friendly, slow-release fertilizer.

The process recovers up to 85 per cent of the phosphorus and 25 per cent of the nitrogen from treated wastewater streams.

What made is a little bit interesting is that we were also piloting with another technology from Veolia Water, these technologies are fairly high powered in the wastewater industry and they’re both designed for phosphorus and nitrogen removal for Portage la Prairie,” said Rick Schici, Ostara Regional Sales Director.

What Ostara provides is a proprietary process called the Pearl Process and what it does is it recovers phosphorus and turns it into a fertilizer that we brand as Crystal Green,” Schici said.

We recover this phosphorus from concentrated liquid waste streams, in this case we are looking at a waste stream coming into the Portage la Prairie wastewater treatment plant.”

The goal is for Portage to reduce the phosphorus load to the wastewater treatment plant in order to meet the new affluent limit being imposed by the province with a January 2016 deadline to meet the limit of one milligram per litre of total phosphorus.

Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource that’s required for all life on earth and us as humans have approximately one per cent of our makeup as phosphorus,” he said.

If we don’t recover it, the only other way to do it is to treat it chemically, and if you treat it chemically it gets tied up and goes out into the byproduct of the wastewater treatment plant, which we call the biosolids.”

But the benefits for Portage aren’t just environmental, Schici said.

What we call the business case for Portage is to provide them the resources via equipment to create this mineral, and what it is is it’s basically a crystal that we’ve developed in a patented process through our reactor that takes phosphorus, ammonium and magnesium and combines it into this little crystal, and this crystal.”

The product, called Crystal Green is a fertilizer, which is a specific blend that farmers use for their crops.

We actually purchase every ton, every kilogram of fertilizer that’s produced from our reactor, and then we sell it into the agricultural market, so our goal is to provide a no net cost in terms of operating the pearl reactor to the City of Portage la Prairie, by providing them a price that’s greater than or equal to the total cost of running the Ostra system.”

He said it won’t break the bank but it is a new revenue stream for the city.

We actually believe that through the purchase of the Ostra equipment the payback to Portage will probably be about three years,” Schici said.

We like to call this a win-win-win, for society because everyone needs fertilizer, everyone needs the phosphorus; its environmental benefits so they can meet the new guidelines set out by Manitoba; and financial win, so instead of wasting millions of dollars on chemicals, they’re going to be creating a new revenue source that they can use within the City of Portage la Prairie.”

Twitter: @PDGJohnna

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