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The following information is provided to answer your questions regarding North Cowichan Council’s intention to proceed with a local area service by borrowing up to $1.75 Million to construct the Chemainus wells and ancillary infrastructure for the Chemainus Water Area (view map [PDF - 214 KB]).
What improvements are proposed to the Chemainus water system?
The objective of the project is to provide a new, high-quality well water supply for Chemainus and includes the following proposed improvements to the water system: 1) two community groundwater wells drilled on municipal land on the North side of the Chemainus River near the Trans Canada Highway, 2) a pump house including chlorinator and a four-kilometre water pipeline along the highway from the well site to Henry Road, and 3) two 500,000 gallon concrete reservoirs off Copper Canyon Road. The system will become operational in 2010.
Why are these improvements needed?
These improvements are required to comply with current water quality requirements set by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). They are not needed to satisfy our current water volume demands. Especially in the Fall, Winter and Spring, the water from the current Banon Creek Reservoir is subject to turbidity and contamination from upland sources resulting in the water quality falling below the acceptable standard set by VIHA. The water system has had 6 boil water advisories between November 16, 2006 and May 5, 2009. We believe it is essential for Chemainus residents to have water that is clean, safe and healthy.
How long has North Cowichan been working on this project?
In 1976, the Provincial government conducted a groundwater research project for the Chemainus River aquifer, including drilling test wells and testing the wells on the present site. It was recommended that these wells provide future water supply for Chemainus. From the late 1980s to 2001, various independent studies were undertaken, all confirming these wells as a good source of water for Chemainus. In 1992, North Cowichan purchased the 10 acre property containing these wells. The Municipality applied for a BC / Canada Infrastructure grant in 2001 and was awarded the grant of $2,414,596 in May 2003. The Environmental Assessment process, including extensive aquifer monitoring with 13 wells and river monitoring with 3 river gauges, occurred from 2003 to 2009 and is required to be continued for at least 3 years after the wells startup.
Were other options considered?
North Cowichan considered a water treatment facility to treat the present source of water as an alternative to this groundwater well supply, but the construction costs of such a facility are estimated to be $10 Million dollars to build and $0.5 to $0.8 Million per year to operate. We have also conducted studies to try to find a suitable well source nearer to the Chemainus water system to reduce the distance we need to pump the water and this is the closest suitable location.
Are all required approvals in place, other than the loan authorization?
Yes, all other required approvals are in place. The key approvals that have been received are the Federal and Provincial environmental impact assessment certificates.