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Wastewater Recovery Project

Stay Informed and Get Involved!

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

Sign up for regular updates to stay informed about project funding, design, construction, and start-up activities. To subscribe to the e-newsletter, visit www.rdno.ca (Mailing Lists).

PROJECT UPDATES
June 19, 2018: Next steps are to complete feasibility study and secure funds

PUBLIC INPUT OPPORTUNITIES
Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group Terms of Reference
Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group Application Form
RDNO Petition

NEWS RELEASES
November 26, 2018: Volunteers Announced for the Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group
Aug 27, 2018: MOU and Grant Application next big steps
Oct 10, 2017: North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery Project Phase 2 Funding
Nov 16, 2015: Master Wastewater Recovery Plan Update
Oct 13, 2015: Master Wastewater Recovery Plan Launch

PROJECT UPDATES
June 19, 2018: Next steps are to complete feasibility study and secure funds

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Proposed Service Area Map
2018 Memorandum of Understanding
2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study (Coming soon)
2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study
2015 Memorandum of Understanding

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

 

Volunteers announced for Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group

Since 2015, the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO), Township of Spallumcheen, and Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) have been exploring ways to build an efficient and affordable wastewater recovery system to serve the environment and residents and businesses in the Swan Lake area well into the future.

The proposed service area includes portions of RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and parts of OKIB IR4 north of Swan Lake.

 

RECENT SUCCESSES

  • 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 will be 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 will determine if those property owners support borrowing $5.2 million over 20 years.

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

    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 and support for borrowing from RDNO Area B and C residents and businesses in the proposed service area which will be sought through a petition process. More information about the petition will be released soon.
  • 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.

NEXT STEPS

RDNO Petition 

A petition will determine whether RDNO residents and businesses in the service area support borrowing the $5.2 million needed to augment senior government funding. Area B and C residents within the service area will receive petition packages in early January 2019 and must complete and submit the petition within 60 days.

An open house will be hosted January 22nd from 5-8pm at the Vernon Christian School (6920 Pleasant Valley Road) to answer any questions affected residents might have about the petition.

To succeed, the petition must be signed by the owners of at least 50% of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service. In addition, persons signing must be the owners of parcels that in total represent 50% of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.

Stay tuned for more information!

Important Q&As

Q: Why do we need a wastewater recovery system?

A: Water quality assessments have shown that many area septic systems are leaching contaminants into Swan Lake, thereby impacting water 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.

Q: Is the project supported by science and the community?

A: Outcomes of feasibility studies prepared by Urban Systems in 2016 and 2018 support the project and outline detailed plans for building and implementing the wastewater recovery system. Support was also shown by residents attending two open houses for the Swan Lake Commercial Area and Neighbourhood Plan held April 16 and June 19. Survey results from the June event indicate that 76% of respondents support a sewer system, primarily for environmental and economic reasons.

Q: Where is the proposed service area?
A: The proposed service area shown in the 2018 Feasibility Study includes portions of RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s south-east industrial area, and parts of OKIB IR4 north of Swan Lake.

Q: Where would the treatment plant be located?

A: If grant funding is approved and the petition is successful, the treatment plant could be built on a 2.5-acre site recently purchased by the Township of Spallumcheen. Zoned for industrial use, and with no residential zoning nearby, the property is located at 67B L&A Cross Road. 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.

Q: How much would the system cost?

A: A feasibility study prepared by Urban Systems estimated the total project cost at $36.9 million. If approved, a recent grant application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program would cover $24.3 million, or about 66% of the total cost. The remaining amount is proposed to be funded by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Township of Spallumcheen, and RDNO.

Q: Would RDNO require ratepayer support to borrow money?

A: Yes. A petition starting this fall will determine whether RDNO property and business owners in the service area support borrowing the $5.2 million needed to augment senior government funding. To succeed, the petition must be signed by the owners of at least 50% of the parcels liable to be charged for the proposed service. In addition, persons signing must be the owners of parcels that in total represent 50% of the net taxable value of all land and improvements within the proposed service area.

Q: What would the wastewater recovery system include?

A: The wastewater recovery system would include collection and transmission infrastructure, a wastewater recovery facility, effluent storage ponds, an irrigation and water re-use network, and biosolids composting.

Q: What type of plant would be built?

A: The wastewater treatment plant will employ conventional screening and grit-removal technology, followed by membrane bio-reactors. These types of reactors have come into widespread use over the last 20 years. Extremely fine-pore membranes are used to filter out the smallest of particles, resulting in very clear contaminant-free effluent. The water is then disinfected with ultra-violet light. It is suitable for agricultural irrigation and is classified by the BC Municipal Wastewater Regulation as safe for exposure to the public.

The treatment plant will also process biosolids using ‘digestion’ technology. The digested biosolids will be composted with a mixture of wood chips and the compost applied to agricultural operations in the region.

Q: Who would own the system?

A: As outlined in the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding, system ownership would be divided into two categories: common works and attributable works.

Common works include the:

  • Wastewater recovery plant
  • Lines from the plant to the storage ponds
  • Storage ponds
  • Supply lines to Swan Lake and irrigation fields
  • Railway and highway crossings and short stubs of major collection systems trunks leading into the wastewater recovery plant.

Initially, only RDNO and the Township of Spallumcheen will connect to the common works, with each paying 50% of net costs at the time of construction. OKIB plans to connect in the future, and would then pay one-third of net costs.

Attributable works include wastewater collection lines, lift stations, pump stations, and force mains owned by and located in each jurisdiction. Each party can decide if it wants to operate and maintain the system with its own staff, contract with RDNO, or contract with another entity.

Q: What’s being done to inform and engage the community?

A:  Community awareness and input are key to a successful project. To that end, the project features:

  • This webpage at www.rdno.ca (Wastewater Recovery Project) with all project information. Share this with anyone you think might be interested in the project!
  • A Wastewater Recovery Community Working Group of area businesses and residents to help guide the process (see below for details, Terms of Reference, and Application Form). The application deadline is October 26, 2018.
  • Frequent news releases and ads to increase awareness. Check the website regularly and/or sign up for Project Update emails by subscribing to the Wastewater Recovery Project Mailing List.
  • A petition later this fall. More information will be available shortly!

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 (in its final stages)
  • 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