As the Comox Valley Regional District proceeds with its water treatment initiatives, the Village of Cumberland is quietly chugging along with its own upgrades to drinking water infrastructure.
Rob Crisfield, the Village’s manager of operations, presented an update on Cumberland’s new water treatment plant and reservoir to village council on March 12.
“Every municipality and water purveyor in the province is trying to meet the B.C. surface water treatment objectives,” he said. “That’s been written into our operating permit with Island Health, which is why we’re marching down the road we are.”
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Cumberland is not attached to the Comox Valley Water System, which serves roughly 45,000 people in Courtenay, Comox, and surrounding areas.
Instead, Cumberland and Royston residents get their drinking water from five small lakes located on the Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek watersheds. The water is treated with gas chlorine.
To comply with drinking water guidelines in B.C., Cumberland is building a new treatment plant and a storage reservoir.
According to Crisfield’s report to council on Monday, detailed design work on the new plant and reservoir is nearly finished, and tenders will go out for the work this spring.
The fiberglass-lined steel tank reservoir will be located to the west of the treatment plant. It will hold approximately 2,112,260 liters of water.
The Village also recently twinned two water force mains that feed into town.
Much like the CVRD did this January, Cumberland’s new plant will add ultraviolet disinfection to go alongside its current chlorination process. Provincial surface water guidelines require at least two forms of water treatment.
However, Crisfield says the new system will change its chlorination treatment by generating “a low chlorine solution from salt by means of an electrolysis process.”
“Right now, for our surface water supply, we use gas chlorine. It can be dangerous if it leaks, it’s not ideal and it’s expensive,” he said.
Cumberland’s surface water supply upgrades will cost roughly $6 million in operational costs, with $6.5 million in the future towards further improvements to ensure the system is viable for the next 50 years. Annual operating costs are estimated at $255,000.
To help pay for the upgrades, the Village received a $4.9 million grant from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund program last year.
The new treatment plant is scheduled to be operational next March.