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North Salt Spring Waterworks District awards plant contract

$8.1-million water treatment facility for St. Mary Lake

The North Salt Spring Waterworks District has awarded the contract to build a new water treatment plant for St. Mary Lake, with work set to start as soon as mid-August.

The contract was awarded last Wednesday to Maple Reinders Inc., which had the best price and experience necessary to construct the new dissolved air flotation plant. Engineering supervision will be done by Kerr Wood Leidal. The new DAF plant will bring the district up to government standards for water purification and upgrade the water quality as well as protect against potentially harmful toxins while using less chlorine.

“I’m really pleased that we got a good contractor, somebody who knows how to do it, and at a price that’s within our budget,” said NSSWD chair Marshall Heinekey.

The total cost of the plant is expected to be in the ballpark of $8.1 million. Heinekey said $1.1 million had already been raised from ratepayers with an initial tax increase as well as other funds already set aside for the project. This leaves the required loan at $7 million.

The new plant will bring NSSWD in line with current government regulations, said the district’s environmental manager Meghan McKee.

“Many people have believed in the past that this is us building an extra-fancy plant, but it’s not the case,” she said. “Not only are we told to build a plant by Island Health, we were told what to build. They even say the process, the DAF process.”

The financial burden of paying off the $7-million loan to build the plant lies on the ratepayers of the water district, who approved the borrowing of up to $8.4 million for the plant in a March 2015 referendum.

McKee said the estimated cost to repay the loan is $250 to $300 per connection (household) per year. The new rate will be in place until the loan is paid in full, with initial estimates from 2015 of between 20 and 25 years. Heinekey added that the $250 to $300 total includes the $150 annual parcel tax surcharge that began as a result of the vote in 2015. So in the end, if the estimate is correct, ratepayers will see an increase of $100 to $150 over last year.

“For the last two years we’ve been charging $150 because we’ve had a lot of delays,” Heinekey said.
NSSWD district manager Ron Stepaniuk clarified some details behind the numbers in the increase.

“Once we’ve determined the actual cost there will be a surcharge on your tax bill to pay for capital infrastructure upgrades and that will include payment of the cost of building the plant, which will be fixed over a term.”

For more on this story, see the Aug. 2, 2017 issue of the Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.

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