The inaugural meeting of the Englishman River Water Service November 9 will be an important one for people concerned about local water issues.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” said city director of engineering and operations Robert Harary, pointing out things like the $50 million cost of proposed projects is the upper estimate for all of the projects over several decades.
He explained the treatment facility, estimated in the $25 million range, is required by 2017 by the health authority, the new river intake is already necessary to meet current needs and the aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) system is only an optional component that could save a fortune.
Program manager Mike Squire said there are estimates that it would cost $600 million to store the same amount of water in tanks above ground as the $5 million ASR estimate.
He explained that they haven’t announced specific things like exact costs and potential tax increases because they are still in the early planning stages and don’t have exact populations, water volumes or designs.
They will continue to refine the region’s water needs as they get closer to having to go to the population to decide how to fund the project. The treatment facility, and as many components as possible, will be built as small as possible and designed to be easily scaleable for increased needs.
Squire pointed out that some parts, like the river intake, will be built to a 50 year horizon because they don’t want to do heavy construction in the river more often than they have to.
The meeting is the first for the ERWS board, which was established as a separate entity from the Arrowsmith Water Service after Qualicum Beach pulled out of the treatment facility project.
Parksville and surrounding regional district communities currently depend on the river for about half their annual water supply and have reached the limit of the current infrastructure.
The AWS/ERWS have extensive communication plans to keep the community informed as planning progresses, including a re-designed website with a lot of information.
The meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. in the city hall forum, will include a lot of information about the history, function and future proposals for the water service.
Check www.arrowsmithwaterservice.ca for more information.