Andrea Rondeau, Cowichan Valley Citizen, April 8, 2015
Municipal partners are starting the process to move a sewage outfall out of the Cowichan River. "It is critical that the CVRD and its partners start the process of moving this outfall," said Cowichan Valley Regional District Board Chair Jon Lefebure. "Funding opportunities are available this year that make this project a priority. There are still many steps to take in the coming months before any change takes place."
One particular grant would pay 50 per cent of the approximately $22 million project costs, if the CVRD is successful in their application.
The CVRD announced in a press release that they are amending the Central Sector Liquid Waste Management Plan.
The amendment is being made in partnership with the City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes, a first step in moving the wastewater outfall.
The change has been prompted by several years of severe drought that have drastically reduced summer flows in the Cowichan River, leaving some of the diffusers that dilute wastewater coming from the Joint Utilities Board sewage lagoons high and dry.
"There are periods of the year when there is not enough river water flow to dilute the treated effluent according to provincial requirements," the project overview says. "Such low flows are expected to continue and get worse in years to come."
The course of the river is also changing in the outfall area and a commitment to remove the outfall has been made to Cowichan Tribes as part of a lease agreement.
Further, the current outfall is at risk of being damaged by log jams and gravel bars.
Downstream, moving the outfall is an important step toward reopening shellfish harvesting in Cowichan Bay.
The idea of moving the outfall is not a new one, as it has been recommended in the Waste Management Plan since 1999.
At that time, technical studies recommended evaluating Satellite Channel (located off of Cowichan Bay/Cobble Hill) as a spot where it might be moved. There are also other options that need to be studied further before a final location is chosen. Great Pacific Engineering and Environment Ltd. were hired by the CVRD in January to do the technical studies and assess potential locations. A projected date of 2017 has been set for completion of the project.
There are also opportunities for side benefits from the project. Moving the outfall and re-routing the sewer main can allow for the reclamation of water for forest land irrigation and heat recovery for community energy projects.
An information page about the project has been set up at www.cvrd.bc.ca/lwmp The CVRD and its partners are hosting stakeholder information sessions and will publish monthly newsletters on the project and provide information at community and recreation centres, and on the website. You can get updates by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-746-2530.
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