A new way to remove phosphorus from tile-drained fields is underway near Chatham.
“The Waterloo EC-P™ is a patent pending technology with which we’ve done a lot of testing on sewage wastewater, so we know it will extract phosphorus from that,” said Christopher Jowett, Head of Technology & Government Relations at Waterloo Biofilter Systems Inc.
“This is a different application for us, but we believe the demonstration will be successful.”
A shipping container has been installed at the pump station, which is near Prairie Siding. Inside are several tanks – two for settling out the solids and silt from municipal drain water and a third that contains electrodes made from steel between which a low voltage electrical current is passed.
The electricity dissolves the electrode, releasing iron ions which bind with phosphorus that is dissolved in the water. In a fourth tank, a foam filter causes the iron phosphate to crystallize as insoluble minerals.
In another container, the water is first put through a silicate material that captures the removed phosphorus to be re-used as a fertilizer on agricultural crops.
“We’re basically growing microscopic rocks,” Jowett said, adding that, with this process, there’s no effect on the acidity or alkalinity of the water.
In other residential sewage applications, between 90 and 99 per cent of the phosphorus dissolved in the wastewater has been removed.
The pump station services approximately 340 acres of land in row crop production.
The area receives a combination of tile and surface water which is pumped from the municipal drain to Jeannette’s Creek.
Phosphorus reduction is the strategy being pursued to prevent algae blooms in Lake Erie.
The trial is funded by the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative which includes farm organizations such as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture which provided the information for this artible.