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$65-million water treatment plant targeted for 2015 completion date

Derek Spalding, Daily News

Published: Saturday, September 03, 2011

Nanaimo Water Treatment Plant slated for completion in 2015

The city’s $65-million water treatment plant will be completed by 2015, according to staff who say the project should be completed on time to meet the new drinking water guidelines enforced by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

VIHA gave the city until March of that year to meet the Canadian regulations. The water treatment plant faced scrutiny from the public and council because of the $22.5 million proposed for a loan to construct the facility. But just three members of the public protested borrowing the money when put to an alternate approval process last month.

City staff say the project will likely require $18 million, which would run taxpayers about $5 million in interest over the 20 years scheduled to repay the loan. Engineers will continue with detailed design plans for the project. Water resources manager Bill Sims said crews should be clearing land and installing new pipes late next year.

“There will be a good solid yearand-a-half of construction for this project,” he said.

The city will also have to replace its main reservoir once the plant is completed because the No. 1 reserve is not a covered facility.

A power generation component of the plant will come from the 14-million-litre reservoir to be built at the west corner of the Colliery Dam Park. The hydro generator will cost $670,000, but it will produce about 900 kilowatt hours of energy per year, which will be sold to B.C. Hydro, generating about $190,000 worth of electricity.

All B.C. communities with surface sources for drinking water have been mandated to improve filtration in order to meet Canadian drinking water guidelines.

VIHA has worked with the city to ensure that the city meets those guidelines.

Because of the new requirements, taxpayers had just two options to choose from: either borrow the $22.5 million and pay over the long-term or see water rates more than double during the next several years.

The majority, if not all, of the treatment plant should be completed by the end of 2014, Sims explained. This time line would give city staff enough to work with and transition to a fully operational plant.

Nanaimo also has plans to build a new dam by 2020, a project that could cost about $75 million.

Some council members questioned the filtration system, calling it “expensive” and “unproven,” but the project has been discussed as early as 2006. City staff had already spent $3 million in early design plans based on political approval.

DSpalding@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4231

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