The Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre treats sewage (wastewater) from businesses and residences in Comox and Courtenay. Photo courtesy of the CVRD

CVRD to investigate, assess options for odour standards

At its Tuesday meeting, the Comox Valley Sewage Commission directed staff to investigate and assess options for setting an odour standard for the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre.

At the previous commission meeting, Jenny Steel of the the Curtis Road Residents Association (CRRA) discussed continued concerns about odours, specifically from bioreactors. The group also takes issue with the proposed location of an equalization basin (EQ), planned for a buffer zone between properties and the centre.

The CRRA has requested the CVRD to re-site the EQ back to its originally planned location at the northwest corner of the property.

“This is an area unaffected by future expansion plans,” Steel states in a May 19 letter to sewage commission chair David Frisch.

Residents most pressing issue is the risk of effluent polluting well water and seeping into the aquifer.

“Tall trees (rooted in sand) could easily topple into the basin resulting in a compromised membrane,” Steel writes. “The northwest location is more sheltered…Odours from a half-acre open basin containing primary effluent located less than 70 metres behind some property lines remains an issue.”

The CRRA has asked provincial officials to intercede on its behalf.

The CVRD tendered the EQ basin project late-May. The basin is required to ensure that treatment and discharge systems work properly during the highest inflows of any given year.

The district decided to relocate the basin back to its original locale to limit constraints on future expansion of the facility, and to reduce capital and operating costs.

“The alternate location considered for the EQ Basin was found to create major conflict between the required piping and an existing utility tunnel,” Kris La Rose, senior manager of water/wastewater services, states in a May 27 letter to Steel. “Delay of the project to 2020 would result in another winter of increased potential of plant overflow, as wastewater flows continue to grow in proportion to the local population, and winter weather is increasingly extreme.”

La Rose said the shift back to the original location avoids several hundred metres of large diameter pipe, and requires half as many pumps — which could mean a difference of several million dollars.

He also said the presence of the EQ basin will not affect groundwater flow in the area.

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