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Engineering for efficiency: Keeping the water flowing

January 7, 2019   by RITTAL

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Aerial view of Metro Vancouver’s sprawling Annacis water treatment plant.

How MetroVan performed a critical infrastructure upgrade while meeting environmental and economic obligations.

When MetroVancouver wanted to create and install a complex pumping system, including pump drives, to perform efficiently while curtailing rising energy costs and protecting the environment, it turned to the joint expertise of 3 Phase Power Systems, Rittal Systems and E.B. Horsman & Son.

Customized solutions were incorporated with standard off-the-shelf products such as EPlan software, TS8 enclosures and the CSA-certified Maxi-PLS busbar power distribution system paired with Danfoss – VACON VFDs for load sharing, to complete the installation in record time. [See VIDEO, bottom of article.]

Canada has one of the largest renewable water supplies in the world, averaging 3,472 km3 per year [i], so the importance of wastewater treatment has never been more important. As the second largest secondary treatment facility in Canada, Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant (MV AIWWTP) in Delta, BC presently serves about 1.3 million people in 14 member municipalities in the Fraser Sewage Area (FSA).

The pumping facility at the Annacis Island plant is a critical part of the infrastructure, as collection and conveyance systems transport the FSA wastewater to the plant. Three 1,200 horsepower influent pumps and four 684-horsepower trickling filter pumps have been in service for about two decades and had reached their end-of-life state. These huge pumps regulate the level of raw sewage in the wet well and convey it into the treatment plant. If there is a failure during high flow situations, there are overflow gates, but these bypass raw wastewater into the Fraser River, which would lead to significant fines and penalties. The trickling filter pumps power the flow of the partially treated waste over trickling filters for secondary treatment, which capture most of the bacteria before the final purification process.


The time came for a critical improvement project to upgrade the facility to continue to protect public health and the environment. With 175 billion litres of wastewater treated at the plant, the region relies on the service, yet trusts the Fraser River ecosystem and surrounding islands will not be compromised. But it was critical to replace the pump drives, power distribution and control equipment without taking the facility offline. They required a complex pumping system for efficient performance while meeting the challenge of rising energy costs.

In seeking to fulfill this project, 3 Phase Power [ii] was tasked with creating a detailed project plan and bid response that would consider the environmental and economical challenges ahead.

Maximizing space and protecting equipment

The first challenge was footprint size. Installing traditional power distribution and control equipment would be difficult. The selected enclosures had to contain all the critical equipment in a small area while keeping the components environmentally safe and secure. The proposed layout for the project needed to be readily understandable and demonstrate how the specifications could be condensed into the available space.

Second, the pump drive replacement had to occur during the summer months, when water levels were low due to lack of precipitation. Canada’s Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations require companies to monitor and record effluent quality. These regulations are designed to reduce threats to fish, fish habitats and human health from fish consumption by decreasing the level of deleterious substances deposited into waters frequented by fish, from wastewater effluent [iii].

To the final TS 8 installation.

Failing to meet these regulations would put Metro Vancouver at risk for fines and legal action. For this project, the provider was required to deliver within a small window, otherwise, the project would have to be put off for a full year until the water table was low enough again.

The third challenge was being able to reliably ensure required materials would be available within the tight timeline. To accomplish this, partners in British Columbia had to have the infrastructure in place to deliver the project seamlessly.

MV AIWWTP had strict requirements for footprint, space, deliverables, and timing of the facility upgrade. Working with technology partner Rittal and EPLAN, the 3 Phase Power project team met the footprint requirement and included the proposed panels using a 3D drawing as a visual. The submitted bid included 3D drawings, bills of materials of the enclosure, ratings, and manuals to help assure public entities of the project’s low environmental risk.

After the bid was secured, two partnerships needed to be established to ensure the project’s success. 3 Phase turned to a trusted manufacturing partner [iv] – a supplier of enclosures, climate control, and distribution systems and software – to provide the integrated solutions promptly. It also looked to E.B. Horsman & Son [v] for material supply and logistics.

To fit the power distribution product into the enclosure space, a busbar system was used instead of traditional cabling. Paired with 3 Phase Power’s Danfoss – VACON VFDs for load sharing, the ampacities of the busbar provided the necessary power, along with the brackets and busbar support, which bolted into the enclosures. As a result, the equipment not only fit into a much smaller space, but also provided the essential and documented CSA approvals.

Synergy in project management 

“Quick turnaround time and ease of build were achieved in part by the modularity and system-based design of the Rittal solution. The Maxi-PLS busbar system, which is CSA certified to 3,200 A, is designed to easily mount into the frame of standard off-the-shelf TS 8 modular enclosures,” said Craig Torrance, director-sales, Rittal Systems.

3 Phase Power states that Danfoss – VACON incorporates the latest in VFD technology and has actively developed benchmark applications tailormade for water and wastewater handling. These applications include pump control, hose filling, pump supervision, and multiple pump control applications.

Throughout the process, the group stayed ahead of the curve by closely coordinating the ins and outs of the logistics and delivery. The parties managed the flow of product through three different delivery stages, all with one purchase order.

Each part of the project had to be timed precisely because of the narrow window for installation.

“They tracked and met critical dates and timelines,” said 3 Phase Power’s Dwayne Donaldson, senior designer and project manager. However, the most critical part was the installation itself. Watching for the right conditions and maintaining a water level low enough to stop the pumps for installation were imperative, as issues could create critical wastewater scenarios.

Future planning

For future projects, engineers should consider the flexibility and customization of their plans. Systems like the EPLAN planning technology and the highly configured enclosure solution made it easy to meet the complex challenges of upgrading the MV AIWWTP.

“There were challenges dealing with the MV AIWWTP. From the start of the bidding processes, our ability to use technology to model out and relay to MetroVan what the build was going to look like gave them confidence we would fit into their footprint without significant environmental impact,”Donaldson said. “The customer wanted data sheets and a lot of upfront information on the project. Going from a preliminary bill of materials to get the project and product moving was very quick and easy. It was a great example of three organizations – 3 Phase Power, E.B. Horsman & Son and Rittal – all working together from EPLAN to procurement to management. And we all came out with a win.”

By choosing the right partners focused on both the environmental and economic impacts of the project, 3 Phase Power and MetroVan completed a critical infrastructure upgrade without major issues.

[i] Statistics Canada, 2010, “Freshwater supply and demand in Canada,” Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue no. 16-201-X.

[ii] 3 Phase Power, a specialist of industrial power system design with more than 20 years of experience, faced three major challenges during the quotation, design, manufacturing and implementation stages of this project.


[iv] Rittal and Rittal EPLAN. Rittal is the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial enclosures and accessories, including climate control and power management systems for industrial, data center, outdoor and hybrid applications. Rittal EPLAN provides a uniform project planning environment for electrical, fluid, EI&C engineering and enclosure assembly in 3D.

[v] Established in 1900, E.B. Horsman & Sons is an independently owned electrical distributor with 22 locations in Western Canada.