Wastewater Treatment Plant

Gibsons’ Wastewater Treatment Plant removes 99% of suspended solids from influent before discharging into the ocean.

We use water in many ways, both at home and in commercial or industrial operations. This water becomes “wastewater” once it has been used, whether for washing dishes or clothes, flushing a toilet, or as part of a manufacturing process.

The Town of Gibsons operates and maintains a network of trunk sewers, pumping lift stations and a wastewater treatment plant that connects the Town’s sewer systems. Together, these infrastructure assets enable the Town to responsibly treat the wastewater created by our community.

Gibsons’ Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) was commissioned in 2005. Since then, the Town has consistently invested in upgrades and optimizations at the plant to ensure the best possible effluent discharge that exceeds permit requirements and minimizes odour.

For a detailed description of how the Town’s wastewater is treated before being discharged into the ocean, please click here.

Odour Control – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Town doing to control the unpleasant odours coming from the Wastewater Treatment Plant?

The Town has been actively working since 2018 to make operational changes and investments at the WWTP to help reduce odours. These include:

  • Updating the “air bubblers” in our digester tanks to help improve airflow in the sludge;
  • Changing the “biofilter” material that the odour air passes through to be treated;
  • Reviewing the chemicals we use at the plant to ensure they are sufficient; and
  • Hiring a consultant with experience in wastewater treatment plant odour issues to help us measure odours and identify changes we could make to alleviate unpleasant smells.

What would it take to eliminate odours at the wastewater treatment plant?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely eliminate odours coming from a wastewater treatment plant. The best chance of widespread odour treatment is an upgraded odour control system, which has been estimated to cost taxpayers between $1 million and $3 million. While staff is currently working to understand what a leading-edge odour control system would look like and exactly how much it would cost, a large capital investment at the WWTP would be a long-term solution that would ultimately require the approval of Council.

In the meantime, we are constantly making changes and minor upgrades at the plant, then gathering data on how those changes impact odour control.

How can I let Council know that this issue should be prioritized?

Each year, the Town undertakes an extensive budgeting process. Managers review their department’s operating and capital budgets to determine their needs and then these budgets are reviewed by Council for a final determination of where to direct the Town’s funds. You can let Council know that you’d like the Town to invest in a high-quality odour control system by emailing them at: mayorandcouncil@gibsons.ca or by mailing (or hand-delivering) a letter to: Town Hall, 474 South Fletcher Road, Gibsons, BC V0N 1V0 Attention: Mayor and Council

Report Strong Odours

Please let us know when you notice strong odours originating at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, as this helps us identify links between activities at the plant and unpleasant smells. You can report strong odours by emailing infrastructure@gibsons.ca or calling 604.886.2274.

Investing in Our Infrastructure (2019/2020)

In 2019, a number of optimization and upgrades were completed at the facility, including the construction of an equalization tank. Budgeted at $2.1 million, the upgrades were required so that the Town may continue to meet our Provincial permitting requirements to discharge treated effluent into the ocean, and to ensure the plant continues to run as efficiently as possible.

In fall 2020, the crew at the Wastewater Treatment Plant conducted comprehensive maintenance work on the process tank in one of two Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBR 1). This is a major component of our treatment process which breaks down and removes the ammonia and solid concentrations from our wastewater.

The much-needed maintenance involved cleaning the tank, repairing broken piping, tightening couplings, and replacing 660 membrane diffusers, and will enable the Town to deliver even better wastewater treatment.

For a full report on the work that was undertaken in September 2020, as well as lessons learned from the maintenance initiative undertaken in 2019, please click here.