About 160 people were presented with a shortlist of wastewater management options in the southern reaches of the Comox Valley at a second open house hosted by the regional district Wednesday at the Union Bay community hall.
The CVRD launched a liquid waste management planning (LWMP) process last May. Along with water resource recovery, the process will identify the best solution to provide effective sewer service in and around Royston and Union Bay.
“All residences within the Royston/Union Bay area, similar to the rest of the rural areas, are serviced by onsite treatment, so they have septic tanks and septic fields,” said Kris La Rose, manager of liquid waste planning. “The lots are very small, high-density, the soil conditions aren’t very good and the systems are aging, and they’re not very well regulated. As a result, we have a large number of failing systems causing potential impacts to human health and environment.”
He notes the “long-standing problem” has generated numerous complaints from residents.
The CVRD, which is partnering with the K’ómoks First Nation and Village of Cumberland, is seeking public feedback on four options for discharging treated effluent: to Baynes Sound, to Georgia Strait beyond Tree Island, to Georgia Strait off Cape Lazo or to ground at depth.
Preliminary costs of the four scenarios range from $49.5 to $58.5 million for construction.
“Those are updated numbers,” La Rose said. “The accuracy is plus- or minus-30 per cent, which is typical for this level of design.”
Federal grants will cover $17 million of the costs, with $15 million to construct a wastewater treatment facility. The CVRD has allocated $2 million towards the Area A (Baynes Sound-Denman/Hornby islands) portion of the project.
Capital costs per connection are estimated at $22,900 to $26,900 for Area A residents included in the proposed phase one of construction, and between $8,000 and $12,000 for Cumberland residents.
The Kilmarnock subdivision has been included in the initial service area.
“I think that’s important,” said Bob Ell, who lives on Kilmarnock Drive. “The infrastructure would have gone right past us anyway, so it makes sense to connect us.”
Ell considers environment to be a big issue in terms of where the effluent is discharged and whether it will impact kayaking, swimming and other activities in Baynes Sound. He also questions cost carry-over and options for homeowners.
“The other issue is where the treatment plant is going to be located,” he said, recalling problems years back when a system was installed at the Radford Beach area.
Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.
Cumberland has completed a draft stage two report as part of its own LWMP process, which has identified connection to a treatment facility in the south region as the preferred option. If the two LWMPs align, the communities will work together to complete the final stages of planning and delivery. The CVRD plans to identify a preferred option by early-March.
The project office is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays at 3843 Livingstone Rd. in Royston.
For more information visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/southsewer.