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Wastewater Recovery Project

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Project Timeline

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Why do we need a wastewater recovery system?

  • Water quality assessments have shown that many area septic systems are leaching contaminants into Swan Lake, thereby impacting water and soil quality, bird habitat, and recreational use of the corridor.
  • A wastewater recovery system would address these concerns, provide much-needed irrigation water for area growers, and support suitable commercial and industrial development in the area zoned for those purposes.

Project at a Glance

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PUBLIC INPUT OPPORTUNITIES

NEWS RELEASES

PROJECT UPDATES

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Key Project Stakeholders

The Wastewater Recovery Project is being undertaken by the following key stakeholder groups:

  • Partnership Committee (elected officials and senior staff from RDNO, Spallumcheen, and OKIB

ROLE: To steer the project and make key project decisions

  •  Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group (Partnership Committee members along with members representing community, environmental, agricultural, and business interests)

ROLE: To build community awareness/participation in the process and to inform project outcomes

  • Technical Team (local government staff along with technical and communications/engagement consultants)

ROLE: To inform, undertake and oversee the project

  • Communications/Engagement Team (key project stakeholders and communications/engagement consultants

ROLE: To optimize internal and external communication and engagement

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

A Partnership between the RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen and Okanagan Indian Band

The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project is a unique and innovative partnership between the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO), Township of Spallumcheen and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) to explore ways to build an efficient and affordable wastewater collection and recovery system to serve the environment, area residents and businesses well into the future.

Launched in 2015, the collective goal is to address concerns over environmental degradation of Swan Lake, the challenges of drought-conditions for local agriculture and the limited ability to sustainably meet the demands for industrial, commercial and residential growth in the area.

Now that grant funding is approved, the project will provide wastewater service to residences and businesses in portions of RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and to OKIB IR#4 at the north end of Swan Lake and have the capacity to expand to meet future demand.

 

ABOUT PROJECT FUNDING

Project timing is ideal with grants covering more than 80 percent of funding. A recent grant application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program provides $24.3 million, or about 66 percent of the total $36.9 million cost. Additional funding sources include an Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewage Facilities Assistance Grant (SFA) grant ($5.9 million), Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million) and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million).

The RDNO Local Service Area petition for borrowing its $5.2 million share of the total project was successful earlier this spring. The petition passed the two required tests, with 63% of the parcels, and 78% percent of the value voting in favour.

Stay Tuned For More Info
Download the Project Backgrounder here for more information.

RECENT SUCCESSES

Community Celebrates Multi-Million Dollar Wastewater Project

September 16, 2019

Cheers from the crowd of over 100 people rang out after Mayor Christine Fraser from the Township of Spallumcheen exclaimed “we were awarded $24.3 million dollars!”

The Wastewater Recovery Project has been four years in the making and has faced multiple hurdles due to the complex undertaking of creating an infrastructure asset that will benefit three jurisdictions in different ways for generations to come. On September 12, the community came together to celebrate one of the most significant milestones achieved to date for the project – the awarding of $24.3 million dollars from the federal and provincial governments.

The event brought together the partner jurisdictions that have worked to get the project to where it is today alongside the staff and consultants that have assisted along the way, and the community that has enthusiastically supported the concept of the Wastewater Recovery Project.

The project partners (RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen and the Okanagan Indian Band) had been clear with the public and stakeholders from the beginning – without this grant money, the project would not be able to move forward. In fact, there were many ways for the project to have come to a permanent halt before a shovel ever hit the ground. Had the petition not been successful, the project could not move forward. Had the Township of Spallumcheen not been able to obtain the necessary land, the project could not move forward. And, had the $24.3 million grant application not been successful, the project could not move forward. Still, the team plugged along to purchase the needed land, run a necessary petition process in the electoral areas, and applied for the grant and lobbied the provincial and federal government for years.
These realities have been at the forefront of the partners’ tireless efforts, each having to navigate their jurisdiction’s unique requirements. These realities and challenges are also why the positive energy was so high at the community celebration event.

“Money like this doesn’t normally come here. It goes to the Lower Mainland, it goes to the Central and South Okanagan but it often doesn’t come to the North Okanagan,” said Amanda Shatzko, Electoral Area C Director, RDNO.

In speaking to the importance of reclaiming water for agricultural use, Mayor Fraser told the crowd about one year in Spallumcheen that saw “over 1000 acres lose all of their forage crops due to a shortage of water. With the new Wastewater Recovery Project, over 600 acres of irrigation water for farming will be provided which is an enormous benefit to our farmers.”
“It's believed that about 50 businesses have been turned away over the last 15 years because of a lack of sewer,” said Bob Fleming, Electoral Area B Director, RDNO. "The benefits will drive our economy for years to come.”

“I always ask people, what’s the actual value of your property without water? It isn’t much. When you start looking at water through that lens, it’s worth every effort to protect our water through holding ourselves to the highest standards,” said Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band. “Investing in water is investing in this community.”


With the grant secured, the project team will begin the planning and engineering work to make the wastewater recovery project a reality.

Download the News Release here

$24.3 Million for New Wastewater Recovery System benefits environment, economy, and agriculture

August 28, 2019 

The environment, economy and agriculture in the North Okanagan’s Swan Lake area received a major boost with the announcement of a $24.3 million grant from the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan for construction of the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery System. The Government of Canada contributed $13,255,148, and the Province of British Columbia contributed $11,044,852. The project will provide homes and businesses with a safe and sustainable wastewater treatment facility and sewer system that will protect Swan Lake water quality, provide reclaimed water for agriculture, enhance recreational opportunities and support economic development.

The project is the result of a unique and innovative partnership formed in 2015 between the Township of Spallumcheen, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Okanagan Indian Band. For the past four years, the Partners have been setting the foundation for the success of this project, including conducting environmental and economic impact studies and obtaining community and financial support. While currently planned to service portions of Electoral Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area and Okanagan Indian Band lands within the proposed service area, it will have the ability to expand to meet future growth.

The grant funding will cover approximately 66 percent of the total $36.9 million cost, with the remaining amounts to be funded by RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million), an Okanagan Basin Water Board grant ($5.9 million) and Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million).

The next steps include design, development, tendering and construction of the facility and sewer lines over the next two to three years. The process will be aided by the continued support of the Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group of dedicated community volunteers providing local perspectives as the project moves forward.

The North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project Partnership Members will be holding a public celebration event with details to be shared soon.

Download the News Release here

Community Support for Sewer Project Confirmed

 

March 18, 2019

Sewer service for the Swan Lake Corridor took a major step forward as the majority of property owners signed the petition showing their support for the project.

The petition for the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) share of funding is one of many required steps to develop the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project. The bylaw will now be sent to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval. With this approval, the RDNO will be able to establish a local service area and proceed with borrowing $5.2 million if the federal/provincial grant application for $24.3 million is approved.

The RDNO petition had to pass two tests to achieve approval from the community: the owners of at least 50 percent of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service had to sign the petition, and the signed petitions had to represent at least 50 percent of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.

The petition passed both tests, with 63% of the parcels, and 78% percent of the value voting in favour.

Strong interest in community sewer shown at RDNO petition open house
January 24, 2019

  • More than 130 Area B and C property owners attended an open house Tuesday to learn about the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project in general and the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) petition in particular.
  • Attendees spoke with elected officials, RDNO and Urban Systems staff, and Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group members about project benefits, the proposed service area, and treatment system components and locations. For more information, view the open house display boards.

Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group
November 26, 2018

A big “THANK YOU” to this new group, whose primary project goals are environmental protection and sustainable economic development in the Swan Lake Corridor.

Back left to right: Leith Skinner (outdoorsman/environmentalist); Ray Ivey (Area C Advisory Planning Commission / Swan Lake Local Area Plan Advisory Committee); Bob Fleming (Area B Director); Doug Neden (retired water and wastewater professional); Betty Holtskog (Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner); Mike Broersma (dairy farmer); and Anita Rea (Spallumcheen resident with community development experience) Leah Mellott (General Manager of Electoral Area Administration, RDNO). Front back to right: Marnie Williamson (North Okanagan Naturalists Club); Amanda Shatzko (Area C Director); and Christine LeMaire (Spallumcheen Councillor). Missing: Christine Fraser (Spallumcheen Mayor) and Alan Short (Avenue Machinery).

  • Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group: Environmental protection and sustainable economic development in the Swan Lake Corridor are the primary goals of the newly established Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group

    A strong response to the call for volunteers resulted in a good mix of applicants from all sectors, interests, and area locations. The working group met for the first time November 29, 2018, with elected officials and staff from the partner organizations. As well as learning more about the project and their role moving forward, working group members also visited the proposed treatment plant location on L&A Cross Road and nearby potential water storage sites.

    The group’s first task was to help build public awareness about the project in general and to bring attention to a petition of Area B and C property owners within the proposed service area. The petition determined that property owners support borrowing $5.2 million over 20 years.

    If senior government grant funding is awarded, the Working Group members will then begin gathering community input on project design, construction, and start up.

    All eight candidates were approved November 14, 2018, by the Partnership Team, which includes RDNO, Township of Spallumcheen, and OKIB. Working group members include:
    • Alan Short (Avenue Machinery)

    • Anita Rea (Spallumcheen resident with a background in community development)

    • Betty Holtskog (Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner)

    • Douglas Neden (Retired Water and Wastewater Professional)

    • Leith Skinner (Outdoorsman / Environmentalist)

    • Marnie Williamson (North Okanagan Naturalists Club)

    • Mike Broersma (Dairy Farmer)

    • Ray Ivey (Member of Area “C” Advisory Planning Commission and Swan Lake Local Area Plan Advisory Committee)

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): Project partners signed an MOU outlining administrative, ownership, decision-making, cost recovery, and operations and management arrangements.
  • Grant Application: A $24.3 million funding request for 66% of the $36.9 million total project cost was submitted to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program on August 29, 2018. The remaining amount is proposed to be funded through the Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), Township of Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million) and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million).
    It’s important to note that the project will not proceed without grant funding.
  • Property Purchase: The Township of Spallumcheen bought a 2.5-acre site on L&A Cross Road that could accommodate the wastewater recovery plant. The Township also secured a 99-year lease for reclaimed water storage from a nearby property owner and arranged a partnership with an existing biosolids composting facility near the project site.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Historically, septic systems have been used to treat residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater in the Swan Lake corridor. Water quality assessments have shown that many of these systems are leaching contaminants into Swan Lake, thereby impacting surface and groundwater quality, bird habitat, and recreational use of the corridor.

Additionally, economic development in RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and OKIB IR4 are all compromised by the corridor’s lack of sewer. Ideal for commercial and light industrial uses, the corridor requires a wastewater treatment plant and reclaimed water storage sites to optimize business growth. Wastewater recovery and reuse would also benefit agriculture in the area, as growers require additional sources of irrigation water during the hot summer months.

MEMORANDUMS OF UNDERSTANDING (2015/2018)

In 2015, to further explore these challenges and opportunities, RDNO, Spallumcheen, and OKIB formalized a collaborative, cost-sharing Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the following objectives and guiding principles.

OBJECTIVES

  • Preserve Swan Lake and surrounding wetlands; and
  • Improve opportunities for economic development. 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Wastewater is a resource.
  • Collaboration and the sharing of human and financial resources achieves better results.
  • Respect for each partner’s mandates and decision-making processes strengthens the partnership.
  • Open and transparent communication among the parties and with the public optimizes project support and success.

An updated and more detailed and action-focused MOU entitled Provision of Wastewater Recovery Facilities and Services has been signed and outlines factors such as administrative functions, ownership of sewer works, decision-making authority, operations and systems management, allocation of plant capacity, capital costs recovery, and wastewater recovery regulations.

The 2015 Memorandum of Understanding was signed by RDNO Area C and B Directors Mike Macnabb (left) and Bob Fleming (right), OKIB Chief Byron Louis, and Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown.
The 2015 Memorandum of Understanding was signed by RDNO Area C and B Directors Mike Macnabb (left) and Bob Fleming (right), OKIB Chief Byron Louis, and Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown.

GOVERNANCE

As documented in the 2015 MOU, collaborative governance of the project:

  • Increases leverage when applying for provincial and/or federal funding;
  • Facilitates the development of consistent and integrated plans, policies, and programs; 
  • Ensures an integrated approach to public outreach and engagement; and                                                                                                                                       
  • Sets the stage for future collaborations.

Governance structures, functions, and jurisdictional roles and responsibilities are outlined in the 2018 MOU.

PHASING

  • Phase 1, undertaken between 2015 and 2016, explored options for providing wastewater treatment in the Swan Lake corridor. The resulting 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study, prepared by Urban Systems, supported the development of wastewater recovery, treatment, and reuse.
  • Phase 2, undertaken in 2018, refined technical aspects of the project and examined funding options and governance structures. The resulting 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study was used to guide the development of the funding application submitted August 29, 2018, to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS
To date, project partners have collaborated to:

  • Assess existing environmental conditions (i.e., water quality analyses conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 confirmed that leaching septic systems are impacting Swan Lake health)
  • Identify existing and potential commercial and industrial uses in the plan area (i.e., 2016 RDNO Employment Lands Report)
  • Identify wastewater treatment, reuse and disposal strategies and options (i.e., 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study and 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study).

Research outcomes, in all cases, supported the construction of a wastewater recovery facility and associated reclaimed water storage facilities to address environmental challenges, enhance economic growth, and provide much-needed irrigation water to area farmers.

CONCURRENT PROCESSES

  • Swan Lake Commercial Area and Neighbourhood Plan (completed)
  • Natural Capital Assets Planning, with funding of $120,000 provided by the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund (underway).

FUNDING

  • Financial commitments were shared by project partners for Phase 1 scoping and Phase 2 technical analyses.
  • A $10,000 Infrastructure Planning Grant was received from Province of BC in 2017 to assist with Phase 2 costs.
  • It is important to note that the project will not proceed without senior government funding. Project partners submitted a grant application for $24.3 million to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program on August 29, 2018.
  • If grant funding is approved, the additional funding needed would come from an Okanagan Basin Water Board Sewerage Facilities Assistance Grant ($5.9 million), Spallumcheen reserves ($1.5 million), and RDNO borrowing ($5.2 million).

For more information about the project, please contact: 

Leah Mellott
General Manager, Electoral Area Administration
Regional District of North Okanagan
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 250-550-3722

Doug Allin
Chief Administrative Officer
Township of Spallumcheen
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 250-546-3013

Victor Rumbolt
Executive Director
Okanagan Indian Band
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 250-542-4328