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New sewage plant would need $23-million expansion to handle growth

New sewage plant would need $23-million expansion to handle growth

It could cost nearly $23 million for an expansion of the new Sechelt Water Resource Centre, which will be needed if population growth estimates over the next few years are correct, Sechelt Council has been told.

The shocking figure was contained in a report presented to the April 6 Council meeting by engineer Jeremy Clowes, of the Victoria consultants Urban Systems. The firm conducted the future capacity study on the $25-million state-of-the-art sewage plant, already mired in controversy over its cost, location, and the decision process that led to its construction.

Clowes said the cost estimates included a $240,000 upgrade to the ultra-filtration membrane at the Water Resource Centre (WRC), a $3.3-million upgrade to the outflow pipe from the plant into Trail Bay, and a $19.4-million expansion of the existing facility, for a total of $22,940,000.

Clowes noted that the outflow pipe’s increased capacity would not be needed if the output from the WRC was recycled, which would reduce the overall cost by more than $3 million.

“If you’re reusing the effluent water, it could defer or eliminate the need for this upgrade altogether,” he said.

The report prompted questions from councillors about the methods used to estimate the population increase. Clowes said the data came from District staff, but acknowledged that an increase of 14,000 people by 2035 was “based on a very ambitious growth plan.”

The estimates also take into account the number of homes in existing neighbourhoods, such as Selma Park and East Porpoise Bay, which are due to be connected to the District sewage system.

Clowes said that an increase of as few as 2,250 new hookups to the system would necessitate the WRC upgrade which, would have to be built and operational by 2021.

Clowes said there was sufficient space on the north end of the existing WRC lot to expand the plant, but Mayor Bruce Milne said later in the meeting that such a plan would be unworkable.

“I can tell you from where I sit, politically speaking, expanding that plant on the current lot isn’t going to happen. There is no community support,” Milne said.

Milne, who called the Urban Systems report “a bombshell in terms of planning,” said expansion of the District’s sewage management capacity could possibly involve smaller sewage treatment installations.

“The technology we have today, I think, behooves us to think of satellite plants. I expect Davis Bay, Wilson Creek will be served by a small plant, probably very similar to what we need in East Porpoise Bay,” said Milne. “In order to figure that out, we need a liquid waste management plan.”  Rik Jespersen

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