Water Treatment Project

Between February 8, 2018 and March 16, 2018 an alternative approval process (AAP) was held to obtain elector approval of a loan authorization bylaw (No. 504) that would enable the borrowing of $29 million to help fund the construction of a new water treatment system. The project includes the installation of a deepwater intake in Comox Lake, a raw water pump station, and a new water treatment plant, as well as a five-kilometer long water pipeline and a connector to the existing system.

Background

The Comox Valley water system provides drinking water to 45,000 residents and is not compliant with the provincial surface water treatment objectives guideline. 

The history of water quality issues in the Comox Valley dates back to before 2005, when Island Health (then VIHA) ordered the CVRD to complete a Watershed Risk Assessment, which identified major risks to the Comox Lake water source. In 2013, after two years of continuous water quality monitoring and sampling, Island Health approved a plan to build a deepwater intake and ultraviolet (UV) treatment, deferring its earlier requirement of installing a filtration system. That deferral however was withdrawn in 2015 after numerous extreme rain events caused several Comox Lake tributaries to experience high erosion, carrying large amounts of sediment into the Lake, and triggering the need for boil water notices.

The new treatment system will eliminate the need for turbidity-related boil water notices, remove the risk of viruses, parasites and bacteria in our drinking water, provide a secure supply of reliable, high quality drinking water and meet provincial health standards. 

Construction of the new water treatment system is estimated at $110 million. Under the proposed financial strategy, the project will be funded through a combination of at least $55 million from grant funding, $26 million from reserve funds and up to $29 million through long term borrowing. Land for the future water treatment plant has been purchased. The average cost to Comox Valley Water System users is estimated at $86 per household, per year, over a maximum of 25 years.

It is expected that construction will begin in late 2019 and the new system will be operational in 2021.

Results

In order for the CVRD to proceed with the final adoption of Bylaw No. 504, less than 10 per cent of the electors in the CVRD would have had to submit an elector response form. The total number of electors within the service was determined to be 47,845; 10 per cent of that number, or 4,785 individuals, would have had to submit an elector response form to prevent the CVRD from adopting Bylaw No. 504 without going to referendum.

At the close of the process on Friday, March 16, 2018, 31 elector response forms were received from electors in the service area.

On March 27, 2018, the CVRD Board of Directors approved moving forward with the project and adopted the borrowing bylaw.