The need for a community sewer system in Area C is clear as impacts from poorly performing septic systems have been measured in ongoing ground water testing in Blind Bay and Sorrento. In addition, a sewer system provides the opportunity to permit additional development and densification as prescribed in the Area C official community plan.
The Liquid Waste Management Plan for Area C was completed in 2009. A review of the LWMP was conducted in 2013-14 with the aim of updating costs, looking for ways to improve financial viability and increasing readiness for infrastructure grant applications. Although the review did not provide cost reductions from the original plan, it did substantially improve our readiness to apply for infrastructure grants from senior government. The final report from this review is now posted on the CSRD website, and the highlights are as follows:
1. Six options were developed and the advisory group unanimously selected option 3 (f) as the best approach because it provides lower overall cost, greater flexibility in phasing and timing, a balance between disposal of effluent via ground infiltration and irrigation of reclaimed water, and it is fully compliant with the existing LWMP.
2. The selected option provides for servicing of Priority 1 areas in both Blind Bay and Sorrento via a new treatment facility in Sorrento. In Phase 2, liquid waste from Blind Bay would be diverted to a new treatment facility constructed in the Balmoral area. Remaining Priority 2 areas would be connected to the system, with Sorrento properties being serviced by a Sorrento facility, and properties in Blind Bay and Reedman Point serviced by the Balmoral facility.
3. There is an opportunity to significantly reduce costs in Phase 2 by constructing a conveyance from a Sorrento treatment facility to an irrigation storage reservoir in the Balmoral area. This would eliminate the need for a second treatment facility and ground infiltration at a Sorrento site, which could be used as the required secondary means of disposal, thus further decreasing storage infrastructure requirements.
The next step involves field investigations at a preferred Sorrento site to confirm its infiltration capacity. The CSRD was able to successfully obtain a senior government grant to fund part of the review costs, which has provided budget surplus with the original gas tax allocation. These surplus funds will be utilized to fund the field investigations.
The federal government has announced the new Canada Building Fund program, which would provide two-thirds cost recovery for chosen eligible projects (one-third federal, one-third provincial). The details regarding application criteria and requirements have not yet been released by the provincial government. It is anticipated that a community sewer system for Sorrento/Blind Bay will be an eligible project and, once the eligibility criteria is known, the CSRD board will determine projects to apply for. In the interim, I would like to thank the members of the advisory group who assisted in the process, namely, Barry Stokes, Mike Murrell and Ed Fearns. Thanks very much for a job well done!
– Paul Demenok is the Area C director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.