Pollution Control & Waste Management

Photo Credit: Marin Svorinic (B.A.Sc. '07)

Research Activities

The Environmental Engineering Group at UBC is one of the largest in Canada, and is comprised of three sub-groups, based on research programs – environmental fluid mechanics (EFM), geo-environmental (GE) and pollution control waste management (PCWM). The latter is the oldest and largest sub-group within the much larger program. The PCWM group currently consists of 7 faculty, 7 adjunct faculty, 2 full-time and 1 part-time technical staff, 1 full-time research associate and 25-30 full-time graduate students, at any one time. About one third of our graduate students are at the Doctoral level of studies. In 2003, the PCWM group celebrated 35 years of history and excellence in research and teaching.

Wastewater Management

  • Biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal
  • Fermentation processes for biological phosphorus removal
  • Membrane enhanced biological phosphorus removal
  • Phosphorus recovery through struvite formation
  • Nitrification and denitrification
  • Membrane bioreactor for anaerobic treatment of municipal wastewater (UBC Filtration Technology Group)
  • Modeling of activated sludge and secondary clarifiers
  • Landfill leachate treatment
  • Forest products waste management
  • Membrane bioreactor for pulp and paper effluents (UBC Filtration Technology Group)
  • Constructed wetlands for woodwaste leachate
  • Removal of trace contaminants

Water Quality

1) Non-point source contaminants from run-off
  • Research on urban and agricultural storm water run-off
  • Characterization of contaminants in run-off
  • Evaluation of bioavailability of contaminants in stream sediments and water column
  • Contaminant removal using sediment traps
  • Best Management Practices
2) Limnology
  • Limnological studies on eutrophic, meromictic, and coastal oligotrophic lakes
  • Nutrient budget studies for lakes and rivers
  • Impacts of nutrient imbalances (especially N:P ratios) on lake ecosystems
  • Lake restoration studies using aeration and fertilization techniques
  • Chemical, physical and (micro-) biological processes in meromictic lakes
  • Impacts of log handling and storage activities on a lake ecosystem in central B.C.
3) Monitoring
  • Monitoring of water quality and of receiving environments
  • Use of in situ bioassays using freshwater leeches to monitor the availability of contaminants from pulp mills
  • Early-warning indicators and real-time monitoring using fluorescent light
  • Use of blue mussels for marine receiving environment monitoring for municipal effluents

Solid Waste Management

  • Incineration ash characterization
  • Solid Waste management strategies
  • Municipal solid waste using landfills

Drinking Water

  • Corrosion of iron and cupper distribution pipes
  • Membrane application in drinking water treatment (UBC Filtration Technology Group)
  • Advanced oxidation processes (e.g. Ozone, UV)
  • Disinfection by-products formation

Sludge Digestion

  • Thermophilic aerobic digestion (TAD)
  • Auto thermophilic aerobic digestion (ATAD)
  • Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) production from primary sludge
  • Anaerobic sludge digestion

Please visit Pollution Control and Wastewater Management website for more information.


Research in Pollution Control and Waste Management is supported by well-equipped research laboratories and modern analytical instrumentation, including atomic absorption and gas chromatography. Also available for pilot scale research on wastewater treatment and sludge management are two fully instrumented 16 meter trailers. Membrane reactor systems ozone and UV technology are also available for drinking water research topics.