The Comox Valley Regional District is moving forward with improvements to the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre. When complete, the installation of new odour control technology will significantly minimize odours both within the plant and the surrounding community.

Upgrades to the facility are expected to be complete in the fall of 2018 and updates will be posted here.

What's Happening Now?

Installation of the permanent covers is underway, two of the three permanent covers are now installed and pictured below. The remaining project work includes covering the third primary clarifier and replacement of the temporary ducting with permanent ducting to collect the foul air from the covered primary clarifiers.

Installation of the dual bed activated carbon (AC) polisher is complete and the polisher is now operational. The figure below shows the installed AC polisher at the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre.

Project Background

Odour from the Comox Valley Wastewater Pollution Control Centre has been a concern for residents living near the Brent Road facility, with the CVRD seeking options to reduce the impact over many years.

While steps have been taken to improve the facility and reduce impacts of odour, in 2014, the CVRD undertook a further review of existing odour control equipment and practices. This evaluation included performance testing, an audit of operational and maintenance practices, a review of the latest technologies, the development of a monitoring system and the implementation of a tracking system to manage and monitor odour complaints.

Based on the study, the CVRD proposed a strategy to improve odour control at the facility, and in January 2017 the Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved several important odour control upgrades, including:

  • 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.

Retrofitting of the existing scrubber has already been completed by CVRD operators. The completion of the remaining work is underway and the total estimated costs are as follows:

Remaining WorkEstimate

Primary Clarifier Covers

$550,000

Dual-Bed AC Polisher

$1,650, 000

Total

$2,200,000

Background Documents

Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Regional District have have an odour control policy?

Yes. In 2006 the CVRD implemented policy 5340-00 being the “expenditure of funds for odour control” policy.  In consideration of the significant investment previously made to control odours, the policy set guidelines for the expenditure of future funds for odour control. The policy states that the CVRD will not spend further public funds in relation to odour control at the CVWPCC unless:

  1. Staff become aware of new technology or enhancements to current technology that would result in a reduction in odours for a reasonable cost;
  2. Staff become aware of new operating procedures that could result in a reduction in odours for a reasonable cost;
  3. The level of odour emission is increasing beyond current levels to an extent that creates a materially increased odour level; or
  4. There are modifications to the odour control system required as a result of an amendments to a statute or other enactment.
What does the CVRD do when it receives an odour related complaint?

From time to time, the Regional District does receive complaints from residents adjacent to the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre (the sewage treatment plant).  These complaints are normally received verbally (over the phone) or in writing (email or letter) and tend to be received in the late summer or early fall. The number of complaints is typically less than 10 per year.

The CVRD responds to odour complaints by first determining whether or not the odour issue is related to operational or maintenance issues at the plant. From time to time, changes in plant operation can contribute to increased levels of odour when certain processing equipment is taken out of service for maintenance. If the odour issue does not correspond to specific plant-related operation or maintenance, then staff work closely with complainants to ensure that they understand the history of plant odours and the extensive effort and expense that the CVRD had undertaken in an effort to improve odours both at the plant and in areas adjacent to the plant. CVRD staff routinely invite complainants to the plant to review the operation and odour control equipment that is in place.

What is the history of odour complaints at the sewage treatment plant?

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. It was determined at the time that the greatest contribution towards odours at the CVWPCC was the long wastewater residence time in the pressurized pumping system from the Courtenay pump station, along with the on-site composting of biosolids at the treatment plant. 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).

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