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Infrastructure Integrity and Climate Change: Metro Vancouver Case Study. Brent Burton, M.A.Sc., P.Eng. Utility Analysis and Environmental Management Division Policy and Planning Department Metro Vancouver. APEGGA Professional Development Sessions

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Infrastructure Integrity and Climate Change: Metro Vancouver Case Study

Brent Burton, M.A.Sc., P.Eng.

Utility Analysis and Environmental Management Division

Policy and Planning Department

Metro Vancouver

APEGGA Professional Development Sessions

Infrastructure Integrity – Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation

Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta

April 18, 2008


  • Background on Metro Vancouver
  • Existing role in water supply and wastewater
  • Adaptation and Metro Vancouver
  • Metro Vancouver sewerage case study
  • Next Steps
metro vancouver
Metro Vancouver
  • Common name of several legal entities including Greater Vancouver Water District and Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District
  • Partnership of 21 municipalities and one electoral area
  • Board comprises elected officials from member municipalities
  • Services a population exceeding two million (projected 2.7 million by 2027) and a land area of approx 280,000 ha
role of metro vancouver
Role of Metro Vancouver
  • Delivery of utility services most effectively and efficiently provided on a regional basis
  • Protection and enhancement of quality of life in the region
role in water supply
Role in water supply
  • Supply water to most of region from three mountain reservoirs
  • Reservoirs are typically spilling about 9 months a year
  • High demand in summer (outdoor water use)
  • Largely supplied by gravity during winter
role in wastewater
Role in wastewater
  • Maintain and operate major interceptor sewers
  • Maintain and operate 5 treatment plants

AAD (MLD) = 98

AAD (MLD) = 603

AAD (MLD) = 11

AAD (MLD) = 78

AAD (MLD) = 510

liquid waste planning
Liquid waste planning
  • Policies and commitments identified in Liquid Waste Management Plan (approved by Province in 2002)
    • Climate change not specifically identified in LWMP
  • Currently undergoing regularly-scheduled 5-year review and update
metro s role and climate change adaptation
Metro’s role and climate change adaptation
  • Mitigation activities (GHG reduction) already well established by late 90s via air quality role, but…
  • Awareness of need for adaptation still developing
  • Adaptation issues first formally reviewed in an overview in 2000:
    • Adaptation Strategies for Utility Planning (Environment Canada)
      • Identifies climate projections and briefly outlines potential impacts (rising sea levels, spring flooding, summer drought, etc.)
metro s role and climate change adaptation for wastewater infrastructure
Metro’s role and climate change adaptation for wastewater infrastructure
  • Focus on precipitation analysis for wastewater systems in 2002
    • Development of GVRD Precipitation Scenarios (KWL Consulting)
    • Comprehensive analysis of historical precipitation and future projections,
    • Identifies patterns of increased rainfall
    • But likely yet “…no urgent need to upgrade the capacity of combined sewers, storm sewers and drainage systems.”
    • But situation needs to be monitored and periodically re-assessed…
2005 drinking water management plan
2005: Drinking Water Management Plan
  • A number of recent studies used to identify climate change impacts / adaptations
    • Some impacts / adaptations related to ensuring sufficient water stored for summer months and increased efforts at DSM
    • Climate change may move forward the date when storage increase required (i.e. dam raising, lower intakes and alpine lakes) by approximately 10 years.
and then there was 2007
And then there was 2007…
  • IPCC report released early in the year
  • GVRD Historical and Future Rainfall Analysis Update (Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium)
    • Generally affirms KWL conclusions
    • Identifies more evidence of statistically-significant trends of increased rainfall (especially short duration storms in spring)
  • Political Board requests update on adaptation activities
engineers canada and vulnerability assessments
Engineers Canada and vulnerability assessments
  • Staff membership on Water Resources Expert Working Group and Stormwater / Wastewater Expert Working Group
  • Staff determined that wastewater vulnerability assessment needed most urgently
  • At staff request, Board approves partnership with Engineers Canada in study of wastewater infrastructure vulnerability
initiating vulnerability assessment
Initiating vulnerability assessment
  • Agreement developed between Metro Vancouver and Engineers Canada
  • Working with Engineers Canada, staff issued Request for Proposal focussing on Vancouver Sewerage Area
  • KWL Consulting awarded contract
  • Lead: Andrew Boyland, P.Eng.
  • Associated Engineering
    • Treatment Sub-Consultant
    • Dean Shiskowski, Ph.D, P.Eng.
local geography of vsa
Local Geography of VSA

North Shore Mountains

Burrard Inlet

Iona Island WWTP

Fraser River

Strait of


Quick Facts:Vancouver Sewerage Area
  • Service Population: 600,000
  • Service Area: 13,000 ha
  • Predominantly serviced by combined sewers
    • Combined sewer overflows during wet weather
  • Approximately 40% serviced by separated sanitary sewers
  • Wastewater drains to Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • As well as City of Vancouver, VSA includes all of UBC and part of the cities of Burnaby and Richmond
Climate Quick Facts:Vancouver Sewerage Area
  • Located in a west-coast marine climate zone
  • Regional climate highly influenced by El Nino Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (additive or mitigating)
  • Generally subject to west to east weather patterns
    • Winter climate dominated by repeated cyclonic storms (long duration precipitation of moderate intensity)
  • Rainfall
    • Annual rainfall is typically about 1,800 mm
    • One day maximum rainfall about 73.1 mm
    • Typically highly variable through region due to geography
  • Temperatures
    • January temperatures average about -0.6 to 5 deg C.
    • August temperatures average about 11 to 23 deg C.
Quick Facts on Liquid Waste Management Plan
  • Sewer separation is major long-term strategy outlined to address CSOs
    • Commitment to eliminate CSOs by 2050 with interim rates of sewer separation
    • Most regional sewers, once fully separated, would be transferred to City ownership
  • Iona upgrade to secondary by 2020
  • Iona to maintain 17 m3/s peak flow capacity
Infrastructure components considered upstream of treatment plant
  • Wastewater Infrastructure and Collection System
  • Combined Sewer Trunks
  • Pump Stations & Wet Wells
  • Force Mains
  • Siphons
  • Outfalls
  • Manholes
  • Flow & Level Monitors
  • Grit Chambers
  • Flow Control Structures
  • Control Valves
  • Air Valves
iona island wastewater treatment plant
Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Began operating in 1963
  • Primary treatment
    • Current plan is to upgrade to secondary by 2020
  • Discharges through a 7 km deep sea outfall to Strait of Georgia (90 m below sea level)
  • 2007 AAD = 603 MLD
Infrastructure components considered at treatment plant
  • Process, hydraulic and supporting infrastructure
  • Screening
  • Influent pumping
  • Grit removal
  • Primary clarification
  • Sludge thickening
  • Sludge digestion
  • Sludge lagoons
  • Treatment liquid stream
  • Effluent disposal
  • On-site pipelines
  • Buildings, tankage and housed process equipment
  • Standby generators
timelines and general climate factors
Timelines and general climate factors
  • Focus on 2020 and 2050 (i.e. no 2080 scenario)
  • Climate modelling by OURANOS suggested that by 2020 and, to a greater extent by 2050, we can expect:
    • Increased rainfall, including more frequent and more intense rainfall events
    • Rises in the sea level
    • Increases in storm surge, floods and extreme gusts
detail climate factors
Detail climate factors
  • 2050 Horizon
    • *Intense Rain – (24 hr – 73mm) ➚17% increase
    • *Annual Rain – (1881mm) ➚ 14%increase
    • *Sea Level – 0.3 – 1.6m (2080 Horizon) increase
    • *Storm Surge – N/A, expected increase
    • Temperature – 1.4 – 2.8c increase
    • Drought – no change (20 days)
    • Wind – N/A, expected increase
climate factors
Climate factors
  • Snowfall – decrease
  • Frost, Ice, Freeze Thaw – decrease
  • Other Effects:
  • Flooding – Fraser River - decrease (?)
  • Ground Subsidence – 2mm/yr
  • Data Gaps:
    • Rainfall IDF curves, shorter durations
    • Wind, Storm Surge
key vulnerabilities
Key Vulnerabilities
  • Key Vulnerabilities
    • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO)
      • Intense rain, annual rain
    • WWTP Flooding
      • Combined effects of storm surge, sea level rise and subsidence
    • Effluent Disposal – outfall/jetty structure
      • Storm surge, wind/wave effects

Photo: Corporation of Delta

policy recommendations
Policy Recommendations
  • Important to use this information in:
    • Review and update of the Liquid Waste Management Plan (i.e. regional design standards / commitments related to climate change, reaffirming commitments to green infrastructure?)
    • Next phase of treatment upgrading (i.e. designing secondary treatment to accommodate sea level rise and storm surge)
    • Reaffirming timelines and commitments to sewer separation
technical recommendations
Technical recommendations
  • Further study suggested to determine increase in sewer flows
  • Further study suggested to determine if additional sewer separation effort required to eliminate CSOs by 2050
  • Identify stand-by power requirements
  • Assess potential for WWTP flooding
cross cutting issues for other communities
Cross-cutting issues (?) for other communities
  • Combined Sewers may have ‘built-in’ adaptive capacity.
    • Designed to overflow in controlled manner
    • Many built when sizing was empirical. (i.e. big enough for a person to walk through)
    • Mitigation of CSOs and reduction of risk consistent with sewer separation and can be consistent with adaptation (if new climate data considered)
  • Climate data uncertainty
    • Regional models unable to account for local effects (wind speed & direction, storm surge, extremely variable geography)
    • Expense/practicality limited the model runs to two initial conditions (same GHG scenario)
cross cutting issues
Cross-cutting issues (?)
  • Infrastructure vulnerability issues more cross-cutting than climate change factors?
    • i.e. climate change factors possibly only relevant to Vancouver (mild coastal effects), but the “infrastructure deficit” is more cross-cutting
  • Process highlights ongoing management actions
    • i.e. complete emergency response plan, review standby power availability
  • Design assumptions for very old infrastructure often not readily available
    • i.e. to determine basis of capacity
next steps for metro staff
Next steps for Metro Staff
  • Report to Regional Engineers Advisory Committee
    • Consists of most senior engineer from each member municipality
    • Discuss and finalize technical recommendations
  • Report to Waste Management Committee and Board
    • With recommendation for further actions and studies for this and other aspects of our utilities
    • Major policy decisions ($$$) need Board approval

Metro Vancouver Sewerage Area Case Study