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Water and Waste Water Treatment Plant Experts

Water and Waste Water Treatment Plant Experts

The importance of water and wastewater treatment in preserving public health and safeguarding the environment is undeniable. The success of these treatments hinge on the performance of the facilities, which in turn depends on the expertise of certified operators. These professionals ensure the water meets the standards for regulated municipal and specific industrial purposes. Their responsibilities are extensive, from training staff to developing standard operating procedures for maintaining, calibrating, and troubleshooting equipment, and updating emergency response plans (ERPs).

With advancing technology required to met increasingly stringent regulatory guidelines, the demand for skilled operators is on the rise. Organizations across industrial, municipal, and emergency response sectors face the challenge of finding capable professionals to manage their operations efficiently.

Amidst this growing need, Almaquin Enterprises emerges as a trusted partner in water treatment plant (WTP) and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) services and solutions. The company specializes in commissioning and optimizing treatment plants, ensuring professional support for its clients.

With a solid commitment to addressing the operator shortage in the industry through practical solutions, Almaquin helps clients surmount their challenges and achieve water treatment success. “We ensure every water treatment plant has the correct classification and the right certified operator,” says Mike Hewitt, owner of Almaquin Enterprises. This focused approach by Almaquin not only addresses a critical industry gap but also underscores its role as an essential player in ensuring the safety and efficacy of water treatment processes.

Streamlining Plant Operations

Almaquin has supported many clients in establishing and elevating the efficiency of their water and wastewater facilities.

One such client was the Town of Lake Cowichan which was commissioning a new WTP in 2020. In the face of a pervasive operator shortage common to rural communities, the town encountered challenges securing sufficiently certified staff to operate the WTP. Navigating the intricate paperwork to comply with regulatory standards and develop the required ERPs to be granted the permit were other concerns.

With deep-rooted technical expertise and an extensive background in water treatment, Hewitt played a vital role in helping the town realize its water treatment goals.

The WTP was designated Class 4, making finding and deploying a certified operator daunting for the town. The entire province of British Columbia has only 86 operators certified to level 4 in water treatment. Nearly all of them are concentrated in larger metropolitan areas and/or in management positions. Hewitt independently assessed the classification evaluation based on criteria such as size and scale, intake infrastructure, and treatment process technology. He identified areas where point allocations could be decreased. After discussions with the environmental operator certification program (EOCP) liaison, he made a successful case for reclassifying the WTP to a Class 3 facility. This change expanded the potential operator pool by 127 candidates.

After relocating to northern Alberta, Hewitt continues to monitor the WTP remotely for smooth operation and assists with monthly and annual reports compilation and compliant reporting communications with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), earning recognition from the town’s chief administrative officer.

On the Trail of Excellence

Acknowledging the importance of certified operators for treating water and ensuring the required safety and quality, Almaquin primarily focuses on alleviating the chronic operator shortfall in the industry. All communities in Canada, and many remote locations, require certified operators for water and wastewater management. These professionals play a critical role in ensuring safe and effective water treatment for a variety of clients, including military stations, oil and gas industries, mining operations, resorts, municipalities, and First Nations communities.

Almaquin consultants specialize in advising on water and wastewater treatment processes and equipment. Their expertise is tailored to the specific needs of each project. This guidance is crucial for municipalities, as water and wastewater infrastructure often consumes a large part of their budgets.

To become certified operators, individuals require a combination of continuing education units (CEUs), must pass standardized exams, and must have specified years of practical industry experience. A significant factor contributing to the scarcity of higher certified operators in technical roles is their progression into management positions.

Backed by its two decades of service excellence in the industry, Almaquin has built a robust network of certified operators to address the shortage and offer comprehensive solutions in regions where adequately trained professionals are hard to find.

These operators can handle a diverse range of tasks in even the most remote locations. From plumbing and automation, to troubleshooting and equipment maintenance, they become the clients’ primary points of contact in managing their water and wastewater systems.

Reinforcing the transformative power of knowledge, Almaquin also offers a full range of operator training sessions, equipping clients’ teams with the skills they need to excel in their day-to-day plant operations.

The training is formulated by Kurt Strogrin, an accomplished water and wastewater professional with a comprehensive background in operating, supervising, and managing water and wastewater treatment plants, including 28 years of experience in remote operations and projects in northern and Indigenous communities. Kurt has taught over 50 training courses in Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut and has developed a northern/Indigenous water and wastewater operator training program.

Almaquin recognizes the complexities of operations in northern regions. Kurt Stogrin delivered water treatment certification preparation courses to a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories (NWT). Immediately after completing the course, the mine maintenance staff were able to write their NWT Level I and Level II water treatment certification exams onsite rather than travelling to Yellowknife or a regional training centre.

Almaquin operators possess expertise in various disinfection methods commonly used in Canadian water plants. These include chlorination, ultraviolet (UV) treatment, and ozonation. Their experience ensures effective management of these processes, essential for maintaining water quality and safety.

In 2022, instructor Ross Pentney gave a small water treatment course in Grise Fiord, the most northernly located hamlet in Canada.

Hewitt brings over two decades of expertise spanning business development, technical writing, and commercial pricing for the Government of Canada’s requests for proposals (RFPs). Domestically, his impact is evident in his roles as deputy project manager at the NATO Flight Training Center and maintenance manager in northern Alberta’s oil camps, where he has commissioned, assessed, and maintained plants. During his extensive tenure in the water treatment industry, he has been involved in major treatment plant installations, serving populations in Metro Vancouver and the Region of Peel, among others.

Hewitt’s notable contributions also include overseeing water treatment operations in high-tempo environments, from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to military camps in Afghanistan, and post-earthquake Haiti in 2010. This background supports his involvement with the international volunteer association Operators Without Borders (OWB).

Almaquin’s graphic designer, Randal Cacayuran, developed maps highlighting regions affected by disasters where OWB has responded. These maps, paired with brochures co-created with editor Diane Brayman, effectively communicate OWB’s global activities. They serve to encourage volunteer support at water conferences where water professionals gather.

Founded in 2017, OWB originally focused on aiding water and wastewater utilities in disaster-stricken developing countries. Their scope has expanded to include training and capacity building. OWB offered remote training sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted workshops in Jamaica, Barbados, and the Bahamas.

In November of 2023, OWB provided chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) training related to water supplies in Ukraine. This training was crucial after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.

Almaquin is gearing up to leverage its international experience to aid in rebuilding Ukraine once the hostilities subside. To contribute to this endeavor, Hewitt has teamed up with Florin Batea, a senior design engineer from Romania that he previously worked with in Kandahar.

Almaquin is also diversifying its services into the mining sector under the guidance of Mohsen Barkh, the principal senior process engineer. He has innovated an AI-driven technology using a self-propelled pontoon. This technology is designated for mapping storage ponds in the mining industry, which typically hold acid rock drainage (ARD) and low-pH wastewater.

The pontoon’s primary role involves precise bathymetric mapping of these ponds and dispensing a patented reagent in ideal quantities. This technique promotes responsible mining by facilitating efficient metal recovery from wastewater. In contrast, traditional lime-based methods yield a gypsum byproduct, limiting metal concentration to about 5%. Mohsen’s technology, on the other hand, generates sludge with over 20% valuable metals, making it economically viable for metal reclamation.

This process uses eco-friendly and biocompatible reagents, upholding sustainable mining practices. It also contributes to lower energy use and a reduced carbon footprint. This technology marks a notable stride in enhancing environmental stewardship and operational efficiency in the mining sector.

With the diverse skill set and extensive experience of its team, Almaquin extends its value proposition to delivering technical writing and site work. Over the years, the company has developed a treasure trove of documentation and resources essential for operating water and wastewater treatment plants. From on-site assessments and project management, to streamlined process optimization and accurate laboratory analysis for water quality assessment and reporting, the team’s proficiency is commendable.

Almaquin associates and projects extend coast to coast to coast across Canada, with a stronger presence in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. In 2023, their projects range from the temperate climate of Vancouver Island to the extreme conditions of Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic.

Geared to Success

A highly sought-after consulting company across oil and gas, mining, environmental services, and facility operations, Almaquin thrives on a foundation of innovation, sustainability, and a steadfast dedication to supporting communities and clients.

The collective expertise, diverse skills, and commitment to solving water treatment plant challenges position it at the forefront of resolving the industry’s pressing issues. “We are keen to assist businesses and communities in overcoming any difficulties and adopting state-of-the-art water treatment technologies,” says Hewitt. In the next 18 to 24 months, Almaquin plans to pursue opportunities in areas with distinct water treatment challenges, especially in Canada’s far north. Operators and water treatment solutions are needed for the region’s remote communities, mining sites, and construction projects. It is collaborating with a global camp service provider for a major project in 2025 and recently deployed an operator to Ellesmere Island.

Organizations can rest assured that Almaquin Enterprises is leading the charge in making their water and wastewater treatment plants function optimally.

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