Wastewater treatment in remote geography and extreme environments ––Filterboxx meets this challenge

Filterboxx treats drinking water and domestic wastewater at remote sites

by Timothy Fowler
Filterboxx Drill Camp Combo, set up at a Blackbird Energy site.

Filterboxx Drill Camp Combo, set up at a Blackbird Energy site. — Photo courtesy Filterboxx

Ryan Workman with Filterboxx Water and Environmental Corporation has dedicated his life’s work to dealing with the results of flushed toilets. Workman’s job is to organize people and equipment to provide fresh potable water for drinking and domestic wastewater treatment services to clients in remote locations in Canada and the U.S.

Water treatment as a career

Workman is a graduate of environmental science with a focus on water and wastewater treatment. In college he selected environmental studies courses; later his professor pointed him towards water and wastewater treatment as a career.

“Wastewater treatment seemed like a good cause, and it’s only getting more important,” he said.

Workman started in the business as a wastewater technician with oil and gas and municipal water treatment facilities. As his career progressed, he became involved in commissioning new projects. He joined Combo Energy as a young grad and quickly progressed to commissioning water and wastewater systems. Combo Energy became Filterboxx, and for the last nine years Workman has led the team in his role of plant operations manager.

Combo unit offloading Filterboxx Modular Unit at a 303-man camp.

Combo unit offloading Filterboxx Modular Unit at a 303-man camp. — Photo courtesy Filterboxx

Mimicking nature’s process

Workman explained the water treatment process mimics the environment’s natural sequence of purification. The Filterboxx process accelerates the treatment of domestic wastewater at site to transform influent requiring treatment to effluent safe to discharge into the ground or for water reuse.

“Filterboxx has the role of educator, bringing best practices to the market,” Workman said. "Water is expensive. Why not use effluent for dust control or process water?” The discharged water can also be used for irrigation.

Remote sites are required to meet all the same regulations as municipal water treatment facilities and often the requirements are more stringent at site. Each water treatment permit states the requirements for safe site drinking water based on Canadian drinking water guidelines and provides the parameters wastewater effluent must meet before being discharged to ground.

Potable and portable solutions

Filterboxx offers wastewater management and turnkey solutions for water and wastewater treatment. Its systems are modular-built to facilitate transport to remote sites in difficult-to-access geographies and are set up to operate in challenging environments.

Equipment transport underway to a site at Knipple Glacier, Brucejack Mining project north of Stewart, B.C.

Equipment transport underway to a site at Knipple Glacier, Brucejack Mining project north of Stewart, B.C. — Photo courtesy Filterboxx

The rental combo units include a generator power source, water treatment system and fresh water supply all in one unit, perfect for supporting accommodations for drill service and completion crews.

“Most of our rental plants are suitable for camps that house between 100 and 300 persons, are mobile, seasonal and easily relocated,” Workman said. “Our operations team also manages systems serving upwards of 3,000 in population.”

Challenges to overcome

Filterboxx provides on-site setup and teams of certified operators work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide management, oversight and maintenance. It is Workman’s responsibility to oversee maintenance of equipment and the processes to deliver a narrowly defined outcome to meet specifications for effluent. Ensuring compliance with regulator-set operating parameters is a big part of what team members do.

Operating remotely makes everything tougher to manage. Workman plans ahead to offset this risk, ensuring the right tradespeople are in the right place at the right time. Maintaining an appropriate stock of parts and consumables on hand gives the on-site team what they need to tackle challenges as they arise.

“Everything becomes much more difficult when you are a day’s drive away from supplies,” said Workman. “Access to off-site management, effective safety support and developing strong working relationships with clients are part of what makes for successful water treatment.”

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