Turbines turned on at water reservoir

NANAIMO – Politicians flipped the switch on power generation at Nanaimo's new closed reservoir.

Politicians powered up generators at Nanaimo’s water reservoir last week.

After two years of construction, the No. 1 reservoir project is now complete. It has been online since mid-April, but local dignitaries gathered at the Nanaimo Lakes Road site Thursday to officially celebrate the start-up of the $11.2-million facility.

The facility will store the city’s drinking water and make the municipality one of the first in the province to recover energy through water, according to B.C. Hydro. Turbines, included in the reservoir system, are expected to generate 900 megawatts of hydro-electricity for the grid and produce $70,000 a year in revenue for the City of Nanaimo.

The new structure replaces a century-old open air reservoir that no longer met Island Health’s water quality guidelines and is part of a larger, $69-million filtration system.

“With Nanaimo’s growing population and it’s growing at about 1.75 to two per cent a year, we did have to have a higher standard of water delivery and water sourcing,” said Mayor John Ruttan.

“People need not worry a bit about the quality of our water. We have the best now and we have the equipment to prove it.”

The City of Nanaimo has been working on the new reservoir since 2012 to help prevent contamination of treated water that will eventually be pumped from the South Forks plant.

The federal government chipped in $7.7 million for the project, while the city footed $3.5 million.

James Lunney, member of parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, told the crowd at Thursday’s ceremony that he is very pleased the federal government participated in funding the project and thinks it’s “tremendous” the production of electricity has been included in the design.