The Brief

Sustainable development is driven by efficient infrastructure and reliable facilities. We worked closely with the Town of Deseronto to make that real at an aging and underperforming water treatment plant.

Project Overview

Efficient plants power effective municipal growth

When infrastructure works better, municipalities grow faster. The Town of Deseronto first reached out to our team because the municipality’s water treatment plant could only access 57% of its available capacity. Hydraulic constraints and aging equipment were holding the infrastructure back—and future development right along with it. We leaned in to design a new solution, together.

Good design explores all options before finalizing an approach. In Deseronto, growing water demands and raw water quality issues were straining available capacity. Key plant components had reached the end of their useful lives. These struggles were exacerbated at key points in the year, when the system was additionally strained by seasonal raw water turbidity spikes, and algal blooms. On the one hand, we could build a new plant. On the other, budgetary constraints made that impossible. With this push-pull reality as our guiding force, we developed a solution conceived to work within the footprint of the existing plant.

Revamping and retrofitting legacy sites always brings complexities. We’d need to upgrade the plant without cutting off water supply to Deseronto’s 1,800 residents. At the same time, we’d have to find ways of bringing the superstructure, and the interior of the building, up to Ontario Building Code without replacing it. Enter the need for deep analysis, and innovative thinking.

Where did we ultimately land? Our research showed that replacing the filtration, taste and odour processes with a single-step, granular-activated carbon (GAC)-capped filter would be an effective path forward. And, by replacing the existing circular clarifier with a dissolved air flotation process, we would could increase reliability and capacity—especially during algal bloom season.

Delivering on that promise meant getting creative to work within the building’s envelope. Worker and operator safety considerations were paramount given tight working conditions. Complex sequencing allowed the Town to continue producing treated water, even while the plant transitioned to the new processes. Stakeholder collaboration propelled progress, and ensured we factored in the right insight, at the right time. By employing these strategies, we helped the Town avoid what could otherwise have been an expensive building extension or new build.

Today, the refurbished water treatment plant empowers Deseronto with a host of benefits. To be sure: the plant is meeting the needs for treated water across the area. The Town is also better positioned to support local development. New motor control centre room, lighting and electrical installation, HVAC system and ductwork mean the plant now operates with leading-edge efficiency. The structural integrity of the building is solid, the aesthetics are better, and the entire facility is up to code for post-disaster requirements. The bottom line has seen upsides, too. Over the course of this project, our creative designs and team ingenuity saved taxpayers $15 million.