North Cedar Improvement District is moving forward with plans to build a treatment plant and infrastructure upgrades to improve water quality within its zone.
Provision of water to a 30-square kilometre area, including Tiesu, Gould, Harmac and Cedar roads, with about 5,000 residents and 1,300 water service connections, is among the authority’s responsibilities and it has been under pressure from Island Health to adhere to drinking water protection guidelines.
Money from improvement district coffers will pay for treatment plant construction at a Cedar Road site, estimated at $2.7 million, according to Michael Bolch, improvement district CAO. The improvement district also received a boost when the Regional District of Nanaimo board recently voted (pending Union of B.C. Municipalities’ approval) to provide up to $1.13 million of federal gas tax money for construction of a new reservoir on Barnes Road, and piping upgrades.
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Currently the only treatment is chlorinating water, Bolch said. Water is already clean, but the new system will decrease any health risks and improve quality.
“It will be pre-filtration and chlorination and then it will be [ultraviolet] and then it will have chlorine on the way out,” said Bolch.
Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer, said the improvement district’s water source is a series of wells near Nanaimo River and was directly influenced by that surface water, necessitating additional treatment.
“My understanding is what they’re proposing will achieve compliance with our provincial and national guidelines … we’ll be out there not necessarily every month, but we’re in constant communication through the process of selection, changes to plans during the build,” said Hasselback. “There are points in time that we are interested in actually viewing it before it moves on and then into the commissioning phase. It’s hard to say how often that amounts to because the time frame for a build can be anywhere from six months, thereabouts, to a year-and-a-half or two years.”
A development moratorium has been in place since 2010. Citing an engineering report, the improvement district came to the decision that more development would put fire protection at risk as the system was maxed out.
Alec McPherson, RDN director for the area, said an improved water system will be beneficial.
“Back in 2011 or 2012, there were more than 200 subdivision applications, this is for units, that had gone through at the time and they’ve just been on hiatus waiting for water and so they’ve gone through all the stuff with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and one of them is one that’s got 70 units, which is where Cedar Estates is … and it’s supposed to be a seniors’ residence,” said McPherson.
Construction is expected to start in 2018 and is anticipated to take four months, said Bolch.
– with files from John McKinley