The Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre opened in 1984 and is one of the regional district’s most critical pieces of infrastructure. It provides wastewater treatment for residents of Courtenay and Comox and for wastewater collected from (septic) systems in the surrounding areas. To keep the centre working well, minimize its impacts on the neighbourhood and prepare it for the growth to come, upgrades are underway.

New Equalization Basin

In 2019, a new equalization basin will be constructed on the site. This basin is required to ensure that the treatment and discharge systems work properly during the highest inflows of any given year. During the few days a year when inflows are at their highest (winter storms coinciding with high tides), this basin will hold excess wastewater so that all inflow is treated properly before being discharged.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tree clearing for the work will be done in March. Construction will occur during the spring/summer of 2019. Trails in the area – between Curtis Road and the plant – will be closed during this time.
  • Excavated materials will be used to block two gullies between sand dunes on the property’s edge, eliminating a site that has been identified by neighbours as a source of odour.
  • The basin’s use will be limited to primarily winter season, and after each use will be cleaned. Because of this, we expect little to no odour impacts.

Watch here for more updates this spring/summer.

Odour Control Upgrades

The Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre (the sewage treatment plant) was commissioned in 1984 and shortly afterwards, the Regional District began to receive odour complaints related to plant operation. These complaints tended to be from residents along Curtis Road where odours are more frequent, especially in evenings in the late summer or early fall when certain weather conditions (off-shore wind) prevail. The Regional District worked hard to reduce odours and improve the situation, however the odours persisted and in 1985 the Curtis Road residents committee filed legal action against the CVRD. 

The CVRD negotiated an out-of-court settlement with the Curtis Road residents committee which required that the Regional District pay compensation to residents, relocate the compost facility to a remote off-site location and install additional odour treatment at the plant to capture and treat the most odourous gases from the processing equipment. This work took considerable time to investigate and implement, but by 1997 a new wet chemical scrubber system ($2 million) had been installed at the facility and by 2002 a new biosolids composting facility ($5 million) had been constructed at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre (the landfill). After these improvements were implemented odour complaints subsided for a number of years.

As population in the Comox Valley increased, so did wastewater flows to the treatment plant and complaints from the community about odours became more frequent. In 2016, the CVRD undertook an odour study at the plant to determine the largest contributors to odours and how they disperse into the nearby community. This report informed recommendations to make improvements at the sewage treatment plant that would reduce odours. These were implemented in 2018 and include:

  • Retrofitting the existing scrubber to increase its efficiency.
  • Covering the primary clarifiers to contain and treat air before it is discharged to the environment.
  • Adding a dual bed activated carbon (AC) polisher to further treat air and reduce odours before discharge to the environment.

New covers for the primary clarifyers help to trap odour.

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Background Documents