The City of Nanaimo has to deal with some at-risk sections of its water supply and the costs are overflowing.
Nanaimo city council, at a meeting Monday, April 4, approved increasing the project budget of the mid-town water supply project from $30.3 million to $44.6 million – a 45 per cent increase – and changing the timeline of the project from two years to four years.
“We find ourselves yet another example of a victim of global circumstances and rampant inflation,” said Bill Sims, the city’s general manager of engineering and public works.
According to a staff report, project partner Knappett Industries has estimated a budget shortfall, so city staff has opted to extend the phasing of the project and defer other water projects to lessen the impact on reserves. According to a staff report, the city has removed more than $10 million worth of other projects from the five-year water supply capital plan.
The mid-town water supply project has become a greater priority for the city since a significant water main break on Bowen Road two years ago. Initially the city looked at a replacement project, but upon further study, decided that additional scope and spending was in the best interests of the city and its residents.
“It greatly enhances the resilience of about two-thirds of the city’s water supply,” Sims said. “This will not only deal with the effects of the premature failure or the potential for further risk on the Bowen Road section, but will also enable growth to occur in the north end of the city, it will duplicate and augment capacity for the single water supply main that passes under Buttertubs Marsh, as well [as] provide a dedicated feed to the hospital. And there’s a bunch of other operational benefits.”
He said the first phase of the project, in 2022-23, will deal with the higher-risk sections of the water supply.
“In other words, the section of water supply main along Bowen Road will be addressed and will be duplicated and that one made redundant in the early horizon,” Sims said.
Coun. Zeni Maartman asked if there are risks to delaying the other water capital projects, for example work on the Duke Point reservoir. Sims said staff has carefully assessed projects and the ones being delayed or removed can tolerate a delay as they address “less risk than we have in front of us.”
The second phase, in 2024-25, will duplicate the water supply main under Buttertubs Marsh and the Nanaimo Parkway.
Council unanimously approved the mid-town water supply budget increase and reallocation of funding for other water supply capital projects. Council also approved a related $55,000 culvert upgrade, funded from the general capital reserve.