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Development of resilient municipal wastewater treatment infrastructure targeting water reuse in Nunavik, Québec

Principal investigator

Céline Vaneeckhaute (Chemical engineering)


Younès Messaddeq (Physics, physical engineering and optics), Caroline Huot (Social and preventive medicine), Marc Journeault (Accounting)


Manuel Rodriguez (Land management and regional planning), Stéphanie Guilherme (University of Ottawa), Sidney Ribeiro (São Paulo State University)


Centre for northern studies, Purolite, Bionest, BioSmart Nanotechnology


Climate change, along with expanding populations, industrial development, and limited infrastructure has made sustainable water resources a primary issue for Northern populations, which will intensify into the future. Conventional wastewater treatment lagoons in the North are particularly sensitive to known climate change-related impacts. Many systems are already in poor operational states, while failure and underperformance of these systems lead to loss of critical services and high repair costs. There is an urgent need for resilient wastewater treatment infrastructure in northern communities in order to provide sustainable food and water production for future generations. This research targets the development of advanced and sustainable municipal wastewater treatment systems for removal of key pollutants (solids, organics, nutrients, pathogens) and potential reuse of the resulting treated water for non-potable uses. As such, this research addresses both the problematic of decreasing freshwater supplies and decreasing resilience of wastewater infrastructure in the context of climate change.

The proposed integrated wastewater treatment concept involves three steps: primary treatment using the existing lagoon, secondary treatment using a membrane bioreactor system, and tertiary treatment using hybrid ion exchange nanotechnology (HIX-Nano), all developed for and adapted to northern communities. Key novelties rely on the use of novel high-efficient membranes produced from biobased nanocellulosic fibres and in the use of a novel electrochemical method for HIX-Nano regeneration, thereby minimizing the resource needs and costs, while maximizing sustainability.

First, wastewater quality will be characterized and target removal efficiencies will be identified with focus on Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik. Next, the technology will be developed and tested at laboratory scale using synthetic and real wastewater, after which a pilot-scale system will be installed in the village under study for real-time technology performance evaluation. Finally, both a technical-economic and risk assessment will be performed to conclude on the full-scale feasibility of the proposed water reclamation process.