Two years ago, the Comox Valley Regional District broke ground on a new water treatment plant for the community.
On Sept. 21, they gathered with partners and guests to open the new facility, which is aimed at providing cleaner, safer drinking water into the future. As CAO Russell Dyson said at the outset, the familiar boil water advisories should become a thing of the past.
The $126-million system will serve Courtenay, Comox, much of the surrounding electoral areas and K’omoks First Nation. Chief Nicole Rempel spoke about the need for clean drinking water, in particular, in First Nations communities.
“Clean drinking water is a basic thing most Canadians take for granted,” she said.
Dyson, in turn, noted the importance of KFN as partner from the outset for the project, which is the biggest one to date for the regional district.
Wendy Morin, the CVRD board member who chairs its water committee, said she was happy to report the project had stayed on track since construction began almost two years ago.
“This project has been completed on time and on budget,” she said.
As well, KFN and the CVRD collaborated on kiosks with information panels near the nearby trail system. Carver Sean Frank produced a canoe that sits in the entrance upstairs in the new building, and there will be a ceremonial pole added to the entrance outside in the near future.
Other dignitaries spoke, including representatives from Island Health, while many prominent community members, including elected officials, were on hand for the ceremony.
After the official opening, there were tours for the guests through the new site. The new facility offers a few stages of water treatment, including adding coagulants to remove particles before the organic materials even reach pipes in homes and businesses. The sludge is removed, and the water filtered again. The sludge can be turned into material such as cover for waste management sites.
An ultraviolet system is also a key component, according to project manager Charlie Gore, as it allows treatments of protozoa, while leaving the chlorine treatment to be used for bacteria.
“That’s to keep the water safe from here to tap,” he said during a tour.
Already, the new system has resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in chlorine use, and Gore expects the reduction to continue.
To help oversee all of this, the facility includes 1,600 alarms, and staff use a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA system to make sure everything is operating as planned.
The new facility is designed to handle up 74 million litres a day. During the tour, Gore pointed out some space behind the building that can be used in the future to expand the site to a point where it could handle 120 million litres a day. As well, the site includes a “clean well” for treated water on site that can help the system better handle the ebbs and flows of demand.