McLoughlin Point wastewater treatment improvements

This project is reducing pollution and improving energy efficiency on Vancouver Island. 

For years, wastewater from seven municipalities in the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island was released directly into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 2019, GMF provided a $20M loan and a $3M grant toward developing tertiary water-treatment capabilities at the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Esquimalt, British Columbia. The project, which serves more than 320,000 people, will greatly reduce pollution throughout the waterway. 

The project has three components: the treatment plant itself; the residuals treatment facility that turns residual solids from the plant into Class A biosolids that can be repurposed for beneficial uses such as fertilizer or compost; and the conveyance system that carries wastewater to the plant and residual solids to the treatment facility. The plant is the first tertiary treatment plant to operate on Vancouver Island. 

The state-of-the-art plant can treat 108 megalitres of wastewater per day using a three-stage water treatment process that exceeds provincial and federal standards. A physical process separates solids from wastewater, followed by a biological process where microorganisms break down organic compounds. Finally, the water is passed through a fabric disc filter to further reduce contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and personal care products.  

In addition to water treatment, the plant has sustainable features with wide-ranging environmental benefits. It has been built to LEED v4 Gold design standards. It has a green roof and enhanced odour-control systems. It can extract thermal energy from the wastewater that can then be used to heat buildings at McLoughlin Point. And LED lighting, power monitoring, high thermal-resistant envelope measures, and a system of heat exchangers all contribute to high levels of energy efficiency. 

Public education is offered via an interpretive space focused on the water cycle, the local natural environment, and stormwater management. 

The project is a collaborative initiative that shows what can happen when communities and all levels of government come together to support a greener and more sustainable future. The myriad benefits — jobs, a safer environment, cleaner water, and healthier people — speak for themselves.  


  • Treatment of over 39,000,000 m3/year of wastewater 
  • Reduction of carbonaceous oxygen demand and total suspended solid levels by 96% 
  • Energy consumption of at least 20% less compared to modelled baseline, a reduction of 451 GJ/year 

Expected indirect economic benefits:  

  • Higher property values due to land remediation 
  • Avoidance of water treatment regulatory fines 
  • Further economic and population growth 
  • A reduction in annual operating and maintenance costs of approximately $348,000 
  • Additional property taxes of $40 million/year with an inflationary increase in future years