The Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) facility is “the only fully integrated, fully contained university research facility in the world located within an operating industrial wastewater treatment plant.” Part of the Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, this joint project between the University of Calgary and the City of Calgary opened in March 2015 after fifteen years of planning. Funding for the $38.5 million facility came from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation ($10.4 million), Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education ($10.4 million), and Western Economic Development ($1.9 million).
Scientists from the City of Calgary work together with university students both onsite and at labs on campus researching wastewater development technologies and clean water sustainability.
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“Unique in the world, the ACWA site includes 3.8 kilometres of naturalized, experimental streams that replicate real-life water situations and enable research that cannot currently be performed anywhere else. Their size (320 metres each), number (12), and connectivity to the city plant allow researchers and trainees to study the effects of actual wastewater effluent on living ecosystems in real time and to influence decision-making for The City of Calgary Water Services’ operational infrastructure improvements.”
“The facility consists of the streams; a dedicated experimental wastewater treatment plant, where methods to remove contaminants are developed and tested; and an analytical laboratory, where the biological and chemical characteristics of wastewater and treated effluents are analyzed.”