NSSWD treatment plant opens

Islanders offered tour of Tripp Road facility

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North Salt Spring Waterworks District personnel showed off their new water treatment plant at St. Mary Lake during an open house event on Aug. 13.

Island residents got a chance to tour the $8-million facility and learn about the dissolved air flotation technology and how it filters the water. The new plant was running in June, but the district is still waiting for a few finishing touches to the disposal system, some alarms and the full integration of the district’s supervisory control and data acquisition system.

Dissolved air flotation is a process where the contaminants in water are separated out by floatation. A foam is injected into the water, which coagulates onto particles, floating them to the top. The foam is scraped off by large brushes, and is collected for disposal. The water is then filtered and treated with ultraviolet light before it is sent out into the water system for consumption. DAF is used by the CRD water treatment plants on Salt Spring, and was chosen to suit St. Mary Lake’s particular needs.

The district intends to take the waste from the plant and compost it. Initially, the product will be trucked to a commercial composting facility in Chemainus. However, the district has written in support of building a composting facility on Salt Spring Island, and if a facility is built it will be able to compost the residue locally.

The plant’s operating permit was issued by Island Health in March, and the first water was delivered into the system on April 30. The plant was initially run during the day with crews on site, and the old treatment plant was online overnight. The plant was officially running without backup in mid June.

Over 100 people came out throughout the day last Tuesday. Visitors were split into small groups and shown around the plant, seeing everything from the office room to the electrical control room to the actual DAF tanks in the lower level of the building.

“People don’t usually get a chance to see inside facilities like this,” said district environmental manager Meghan McKee.

Plant planning began in 2012, and the plant was funded after a borrowing referendum was passed in 2015. The referendum allowed the district to borrow up to $8.4 million for the construction of the facility. Though the opening date was set back, the plant was finished under budget for a total of $7.9 million.

“We made a plan, and we didn’t deviate from the plan,” said district manager Ron Stepaniuk. “So it worked.”

The new plant will be able to handle considerably more water than its predecessor. The original plant had a capacity of producing around 450 gallons per minute, said works supervisor Grant Tamboline during one of the tours. The new plant, he explained, produces around 700 gallons per minute, or 52 litres per second.

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