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Sniffing out options for expansion of Salmon Arm’s sewage treatment plant

Public presented with nine site possibilities at open house, feedback to help narrow options
A city chart outlines nine options for expansion of the wastewater treatment plant along with their relative costs, environmental impacts, short-term and long-term impacts for residents, technical feasibility and regulatory considerations and, lastly, other regulatory, cost and construction risks. (City of Salmon Arm image)

Salmon Arm residents have been asked to consider something that might not normally get a lot of thought.

What should happen after the toilet is flushed?

Hand-washing aside, the city wants input regarding options for the sewage treatment plant as the population increases.

At an open house on Thursday, Feb. 13, city staff were on hand to provide answers regarding nine site options presented, one of them keeping the water protection control centre, as it’s called, where it is. It’s currently located lakeside of Churches Thrift Shop at 121 Narcisse St. NW.

The other eight location options listed were: south industrial park, north industrial park, Shuswap cemetery, light industrial park, Minion Field, Raven, Canoe west and Canoe east.

Read more: Salmon Arm to study potential sites for expanding sewage treatment plant

Each of the nine sites came complete with legends corresponding to five categories and the ranking for each site.

The categories are: 1) relative costs, ranging from zero to $10 million, $10M to 20M and more than $20M; 2) environmental impacts; 3) short-term impacts on residents in terms of construction and long-term impacts such as visual, noise or odour; 4) technical feasibility and regulatory considerations and 5) other regulatory, cost and construction risks.

City staff also pointed to other factors adding to the mix. One is that a moratorium exists on new outfall discharges into Shuswap Lake so any new system has to discharge treated effluent into the existing outfall. The current outfall is 800 metres out into the lake from the plant.

Zoning and property ownership will affect the viability of new sites. The Agricultural Land Reserve is prioritized for farming, so non-agricultural uses are typically restricted.

Another factor is that any new site must have sufficient space for use in the long-term, estimated to be a minimum of 1.5 to two hectares, equalling a 50- to 100-year site life.

Site elevation must be above the 200-year flood plain elevation (351 metres) or facilities will require flood proofing.

Regarding the outfall, Al Gibb, a North Vancouver engineer who has worked on the plant since the 1980s, pointed out that almost all communities of a certain size discharge their treated effluent into a body of water. Smaller communities are sometimes able to treat it and infiltrate it into the ground. Vernon is an exception for larger communities in that it generally sprays all its effluent ont0 a large land base, but in a wetter year it has had to join communities like Kelowna and discharge into the lake.

Read more: Consultant scopes out sites for Salmon Arm sewage treatment upgrade

Engineer Tony Guerra, who dropped in to see the plans, said if the city has a site already, why not use it given it has room to expand. He said it will be important to upgrade odour control to satisfy residents.

The city’s director of engineering, Rob Niewenhuizen, said he was pleased with the attendance and discussions at the open house.

Next will come narrowing the options to two or three sites, doing a detailed analysis of them and then holding another open house.

Residents are still welcome to fill out a hard copy of the questionnaire on options for the site expansion, or read questions online and then email in their answers.

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Hart Frese, chief operator and manager of Salmon Arm’s Water Pollution Control Centre, talks to Matt Murdock, an engineer with an interest in the project options being considered for expansion of the plant, at the city’s open house held Feb. 13 at city hall. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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