Sewer is not just the stuff you flush down the toilet. There are two types of sewer systems: sanitary sewer and storm sewer.
Sanitary Sewer (Toilets, Showers, Laundry)
Within the city's boundaries, sewage is collected from buildings through underground pipes. The sewage flows by gravity and pump stations to treatment lagoons on the north and south sides of the city. The south lagoons discharge to the Peace River on a continuous basis, whereas the north lagoons discharge to the Beatton River on a seasonal basis.
Some of the issues the City must consider include large peak flows during rainstorms, which can cause basement flooding; and phosphorous, oil, and radioactive substances that are not currently being removed before sewage enters the rivers.
Wastewater Screening Station
The City has a screening and grit removal facility in its wastewater collection system. The facility consists of two screens: a course screen, a fine screen, as well as a grit chamber with centrifugal flow to better enhance the quality of wastewater treatment.
Water Recovery Facility
In 2016, the City received a $5 million grant from the federal Gas Tax Fund towards the construction of the $9.5 million Water Recovery Facility, which also included the construction of a new screening facility and distribution kiosk. The Facility takes effluent that has already gone through the City’s treatment process and further treats it through a series of filters and screens before it is chlorinated and available for industrial and agricultural uses.
The Facility is capable of producing over 4,500 cubic metres per day (or roughly two Olympic-sized swimming pools) and uses for reclaimed water, include:
- Hydraulic fracturing and oil/gas well development
- Pipeline hydro testing
- Equipment washing
- Dust suppression and soil compaction
- Making concrete or aggregate washing
- Make-down water for chemicals
- Sanitary and storm sewer flushing
- Irrigation of non-edible landscaping such as parks, planters and trees
Storm Sewer (Rainwater, Snowmelt)
Rainwater and snowmelt is collected in ditches and gutters and then enters the pipe network through catch basins and ditch inlets. The water flows by gravity to the north and south, exiting the pipe network into ditches, then into creeks and eventually into the Peace River and Beatton River.
Concerns include the large volumes of pesticides, oil, and silt the city discharges into local creeks and rivers.
If you are concerned about Fort St. John's sewage system, the City encourages you to get involved through the Public Advisory Committee. The Committee deals with the cost of treatment, basement flooding, oily or radioactive wastes in the rivers, illegal sewer dumping, phosphorous in the rivers, water conservation, re-use of bio-solids, zoning bylaws around lagoons, sewer odours, ageing infrastructure, sitting water, and open ditches. The Committee also participates in forming the Liquid Waste Management Plan. The plan defines the issues and problems related to liquid waste. It then identifies all feasible solutions, evaluates the options and selects the preferred one.