Aquifer recharge project a go

Innovative program will take winter water to save for summer

Parksville mayor Chris Burger

The City of Parksville likely won’t need to draw as much water from the Englishman River in future during the summer months, thanks to an innovative water storage and recovery project announced Monday.

The $1.3 million project, announced by Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney, will see water taken from the Englishman River during the winter and treated before being injected into local aquifers, to be withdrawn again in the summer.

The move, Lunney said, will not only benefit the drinking water supply but also the sensitive Englishman River ecosystem.

“It’s an innovative approach that is a much more cost-effective way to store water in a safe manner.”

Funding for the project came from the federal government’s Gas Tax Fund, which is set to provide $2 billion to municipal infrastructure projects every year.

Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a relatively new technology that manages peak demands and reduces overall demand on water treatment plants.

Regional District of Nanaimo chair Joe Stanhope said he’s hopeful the project will reduce the size of the planned water treatment plant by a third and reduce the amount of water taken out of the Englishman River during the summer months by as much as 50 per cent.

“This will assist in maintaining the minimum fisheries flow in the lower reaches of the river and will provide an important supplemental source of water to meet future need,” he said.

Ida Chong, the provincial minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development, congratulated the regional district for taking such an innovative approach.

“It’s a novel idea and a great initiative,” she said. “It’s a big step that makes an awful lot of sense.”

Parksville Mayor Chris Burger said the move was much-anticipated by city staff, calling it an example of using natural systems to minimize the city’s impact on the environment.

“We are thrilled to be on the leading edge of something new and are more than happy to take up our role to work out the bugs and make sure this is of benefit not just to ourselves, but to the entire province,” he said.


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