The proposed Englishman River Water Service water treatment plant is the most costly project in Parksville’s history. Even so, at the ERWS meeting on Nov. 13 it took only the four elected board members — two representing the city and two the RDN — to commit Parksville ratepayers to a $26 million expenditure for the city’s portion of expenses (74 per cent) relating to the $37 million water treatment plant (WTP).
Two of the four representatives left the board following the municipal elections on Nov. 15 and therefore aren’t accountable for their decision. The Parksville Residents Association water committee is concerned about this perceived breach of the democratic process.
The committee also questions the statement in the summary report of the Nov. 13 meeting that suggests a phased WTP of smaller proportion, i.e. 16 ML/d, is insufficient for our needs because it lacks a safety factor. In fact, there is a very large safety factor of 11.8 ML/d provided by ground water, which is entirely omitted from ERWS calculations.
While there is no question that reliance on our well field must be reduced because of the declining water table, we wonder whether the real reason ground water was ignored was to rationalize building a water treatment plant larger than 16 ML/d when completed. ERWS has approved a capacity of 48 ML/d.
The PRA water committee is therefore recommending a peer review of the proposed water treatment plant. The peer review process, common for projects of this magnitude, prevents oversights, errors and omissions, ensures that the design meets building code requirements, and confirms that all designs and details are complete.
A peer review provides quality assurance and moreover has the advantage of identifying any design improvements that would result in a better, more economical plant.
The PRA water committee calls on our mayor and council to invest in a peer review by an independent engineering firm to ensure that the ERWS proposed water treatment plant is the most viable, practical, and fiscally responsible solution for Parksville.