Water project gets a $400K boost

Eight federal gas tax grants totalling $23M were announced Wednesday

The $40 million water service project in the works for Parksville and Nanoose Bay is about six months behind schedule, but a $400,000 grant announced Tuesday shows it is still rolling along.

“We applied for it, so we knew the application was in, but it’s definitely a pleasant bonus,” said Englishman River Water Service program manager Mike Squire of the federal Gas Tax Funds disbursed Tuesday.

Squire said 2014 will be a big year for the project, which has already seen years of planning and testing and will lead to a new river water intake, treatment plant and possibly the province’s first aquifer storage and recovery system (ASR).

“This money will help with the costs in the design stage,” Squire said, adding the goal is to complete preliminary designs, updated costs, extensive public education and a referendum on borrowing millions of dollars by the end of the year.

“When grants are available we want to be ready to take advantage,” he added.

He said he hopes the ASR feasibility study — with the results from ongoing tests of pumping, storing and retrieving treated water — will be done by April. Squire said they need the ASR results before they can finalize the treatment facility plans because ASR would reduce the required treatment capacity.

A community advisory group is also starting a lot of work on decisions around options like walking trails, an educational component, public meeting spaces and LEED environmental certification among others.

The grant announced Tuesday was one of eight totalling $23 million handed out to infrastructure projects across the Regional District of Nanaimo. A sewer project in Bowser will also get some of this grant money, according to a regional district official.