Officials believe the French Creek water system needs an upgrade.
The Regional District of Nanaimo board has approved a plan to improve the system due to extemely high levels of iron and manganese in the water that occasionally turns the colour to dark brown, like tea. It is a problem that has existed for many years.
The water source for the French Creek Water Service Area comes from a series of groundwater wells located nearby. The water source is chlorinated and stored in one reservoir.
Manager of Water Services, Murray Walters, in his report to the RDN board, indicated that although the quality of the water meets the mandatory health requirements for drinking water, it exceeds the recommended aesthetic requirement. He said that while it is safe to drink, it is not appealing to the eyes or the palate.
The planned water system upgrade project, which will cost around $1,871,500, will involve a new treatment plant, reservoir, well upgrade and control upgrade.
However, the water service area does not have sufficient funds to finance this major expenditure and is going to rely on provincial and federal grants.
Last August, the RDN applied for a grant under the ‘Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program — Environmental Quality’, a program administered by the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. For the grant application to be considered, the RDN needs to provide proof of its financial commitment to the project by the end of this year.
Walters had informed the board the RDN’s share of the cost of the project would be $505,305, which is included in the RDN’s 10-year capital plan and slated to start in 2023. Half of the amount, Walters said, will come from reserves and the other half from borrowing.
To gain the approval of the MMAH, the regional district was advised by the province to establish a loan authorization bylaw. Once it is given third reading by the board, the next step would be to gain approval of the 239 parcels in French Creek that would share paying the debt.
Staff suggested that the approval by taxpayers be in the form of assent of electors or alternative approval process. It would only be sought if the grant application is successful. The loan authorization bylaw will not be applied if grant application fails.