Joint Utility Board Sewage Treatment Plant Outfall Relocation Project

1. Background

The Joint Utility Board Sewage Treatment Plant is a hybrid secondary/tertiary treatment plant that treats wastewater from North Cowichan, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Eagle Heights and Cowichan Tribes. The Plant is located on Cowichan Tribes’ lands near Duncan. The Plant is operated by the District of North Cowichan and discharges highly treated effluent into the Cowichan River. The Outfall Project proposes to relocate the outfall to a new location in Satellite Channel.

The current outfall more than meets provincial standards, but there are several reasons to relocate the outfall to Satellite Channel:

  • The treatment plant is on land leased from Cowichan Tribes. The lease agreement includes a commitment to make reasonable effort to move the outfall from the Cowichan River.
  • During periods of very low river flow, there is not enough flow to provide the desired amount of effluent dilution. Low river flows are expected to become more frequent in the future.
  • The existing outfall infrastructure is at risk of damage from log jams and gravel accumulation.
  • Moving the outfall from the river is an important step towards re-opening shellfish harvesting in Cowichan Bay.

2. Potential Route

Work is underway to identify the best location for the marine outfall, and the best route to get there.

A potential deep-water outfall location has been identified through scientific studies (Stage 2 EIS Outfall Terminus), traditional ecological knowledge, and consultation with local First Nations.  Additional monitoring, before and after the outfall is operational, will take place through a Receiving Environment Monitoring Program (report to be posted when available).

Work is now underway to determine the preferred route for the pipe that will carry treated effluent from the treatment plant to the outfall. This decision will be based on many factors: environmental, archaeological and cultural studies; consultation with local First Nations, engagement with stakeholder groups and the public; and assessments of the relative cost and feasibility of potential routes. 

Several land and marine routes are under consideration, and additional options may emerge as we move forward.  A first stage of this work was to identify environmental considerations of possible marine pipeline routes. A study (Stage 2 EIS Marine Pipeline Route) assessed four options and their implications. Note that no decisions have yet been made with respect to routing. 

3. Get Informed

  • Stakeholder and public engagement will begin in the near future with opportunities for online input through PlaceSpeak and a public Open House.
  • To be added to the notification list for information and updates, click here.
  • If you have any comments or questions, please email

4. Presentations

5. Update Bulletins

6. Studies and Reports

i)  Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) Amendment & Stage 1 Environmental Impact Study (EIS)

ii)  Stage 2 Environmental Impact Study (EIS)