This article was originally published by the London Free Press.

London may soon become a leader in North America in wastewater technology, city council’s civic works committee was told Monday.

Peter White, president of the London Economic Development Corp., said plans to turn a sewage treatment plant into a world-class laboratory will build on London’s reputation as a leader in waste¬≠water technology and innovation.

An $8-million addition to the Greenway pollution control plant, to be split between the city and federal government, will house the Southern Ontario Water Consortium London Wastewater Facility.

Led by Western University, partnering with other universities and IBM, the centre will use real-life sewage volume to test ways to improve treatment and potentially turn sewage into drinking water, he said.

“This is the only facility of its type in North America,” he said, and will be a magnet for research and high-tech firms.

“London was always seen as a leader,” he said, noting the local presence of wastewater treatment companies Trojan Technologies and Purifics.

City engineer John Braam described the venture as “a very exciting project” and persuaded the committee to allow staff to move ahead with the signing of agreements and issuing of tenders to ensure completion meets timing deadlines associated with the $4.7 million coming from Ottawa.

The federal money must be allocated by March 2014, Braam said.

Council has already approved the city’s $3.8-million share of the venture. Aside from Western, major partners include McMaster University, Ryerson University, the University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University.