Over the past three to four years a great deal of work has been done to advance the Area C Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP). In 2013, a consulting firm was contracted to develop a cost effective and affordable implementation plan. A series of technical reports characterized the service area, discussed financing, and hydrology and reviewed treatment strategies and design options. The Advisory Committee of residents preferred an option which called for two new treatment plants, one in Balmoral and the other in Sorrento.
At that time it was determined it would be best to build the Sorrento plant first as the Official Community Plan designates Sorrento to be the Area C Town Centre and there is a higher density of homes and businesses in that area.
Work was then done to identify an appropriate site to service Sorrento with a facility that would disperse treated effluent via rapid infiltration to ground. Through 2014-15, potential sites were identified and a series of hydrologic studies and test drillings occurred. Unfortunately, the geology and hydrology in the Sorrento/Notch Hill area was not suitable for rapid infiltration.
Annually, groundwater testing is conducted at 17 sampling locations in the Sorrento-Blind Bay area. These sites include water supply wells, monitoring wells, groundwater springs, foreshore groundwater points, surface water and a culvert stream. Samples taken in 2013 included measures of alkalinity, water hardness, anions, nutrients, dissolved metals and bacteria. Totals exceeded Canadian water-quality guidelines in more than one measure at all 17 sites, moreover, 14 of 17 sites showed total coliforms surpassed guidelines and eight of 17 showed excessive E.coli and Fecal coliforms. This data strongly suggests there has been negative effects on lake water quality due to the concentration of private sewage disposal systems in the Blind Bay-Sorrento area, and it supports continuing work on the development of a community sewer system.
Through 2016, work has focused on refining the provisions in the LWMP including the identification of suitable locations for a sewer treatment plant and effluent storage reservoir in the Balmoral area. Treated effluent is to be dispersed via spray irrigation at local farms, a method proven to be successful in other areas.
Recently, the federal government has enhanced the national infrastructure grant program with additional funds. More importantly, the Feds and the Province will now cover 83 per cent of project capital costs for approved applications. This is by far the best infrastructure granting opportunity ever provided to local governments. The current low interest rate environment also supports our plan to apply for a major infrastructure grant at the next available opportunity, anticipated to be in early 2018.
At the February CSRD Board meeting, new bylaws were read and will be sent to the province for approvals.
A number of critical elements to complete our application have yet to be resolved. The CSRD is planning to work through these elements and to develop a comprehensive public communications program with Area C residents in the months to come. Going forward, there will be a number of communications on this topic…, so please stay tuned.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.