Power generation a spinoff from new water facility

The reconstruction will include building a small turbine that will capture the energy from water flow from the city's drinking water supply and turn it into roughly 320 kilowatts of power.

The new $65-million water treatment centre required by Vancouver Island Health Authority could prove costly for Nanaimo taxpayers, but a unique opportunity to generate money could also emerge.

One of several phases to build the facility includes a new 14-million litre reservoir to replace the current open air Reservoir No. 1, which will become obsolete with the new plant, because of potential recontamination after water passes through the new high-tech filtration system.

The reconstruction will include a small turbine to capture energy from water flow and turn it into roughly 320 kilowatts of power.

“That’s enough to power 60 to 100 homes for a year,” said Bill Sims, Nanaimo’s manager for water resources.

It will also generate $170,000 annually by selling the power to B.C. Hydro.

“One of the most pleasing aspects of this proposal is we actually are going to recover energy from the flow of water that provides our drinking water,” said Coun. Bill Holdom.

The entire phase of development will cost $11.2 million, though city hall has applied for $7.7 million in funding through gas tax grants.

The detail design of the phase, which also includes installation of water supply mains from existing mains to the reservoir’s new location in the southwest corner of Colliery Dam Park, was awarded to Associated Engineering Ltd. with fees estimated at $680,000.

The next phase of the engineering work for Reservoir No. 1, construction services, will be negotiated and awarded following the completion of the detailed design, anticipated to be next summer.

The water treatment plant itself, which will require permission from voters to borrow $22.5 million toward the total cost, is expected to be complete in spring 2015.