Saltair water system filtration grant successful

Considerable reduction in costs of treatment upgrades for taxpayers

Stocking Lake is the open water source for the Saltair water system that requires a filtration system under the Province of BC drinking water regulations. (Photo submitted)

Saltair taxpayers will pay less and receive more following the approval of a grant application for the Saltair water treatment expansion project.

“I wanted to run up and down the streets knocking on everyone’s door to spread the amazing news,” noted Lynne Smith, Cowichan Valley Regional District director for Area G.

An Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Green Infrastructure (Environmental Quality Program) grant will provide $6 million in funding.

As a result, the CVRD will increase the capacity of the Saltair water system and two new treatment units will be installed to improve water quality at the existing treatment plant site, along with a micro-hydro turbine to generate green power and reduce the plant’s overall energy consumption.

“I thank everyone who helped bring this about, particularly the Saltair Water Advisory Committee, which provided a needed perspective and helpful advice,” Smith enthused. “I also specifically thank the local, provincial and federal bureaucrats and politicians who patiently listened to my pleas for support and who ultimately caused our application to succeed.”

The $6 million will be made up of $4.4 million from the federal and provincial governments, with $1.6 million or 26.67 per cent to be funded by the Saltair water system parcel taxpayers.

Under the recent community loan authorization for the filtration system, the loan for the $1.6 million is already authorized, according to Smith, and $2.1 million less than the amount that might have been required to pay.

“As a community, it is full steam ahead to bring our water system into compliance and to meet the Island Health installation deadlines,” she added.

“This grant application has been quite the roller coaster. Two earlier grant applications were unsuccessful. Last summer, the Island Health Water Contravention Order deadlines meant we would not be able to continue with the application.”

Smith worked with the CVRD board and a letter was sent to Island Health, which resulted in her joining meetings with Island Health staff, CVRD staff and CVRD chair Aaron Stone. The meetings led Island Health to change its deadlines and the grant application remained in the system.

Support was gained from Saltair taxpayers previously in an Alternative Approval Process for borrowing up to $3.7 million to fund the provincially-mandated, water-filtration-treatment upgrades, with only 30 objections filed by the deadline. The AAP came at a minimal cost to the Saltair taxpayers and a referendum would have cost about $40,000.

Related story: Saltair electors approve water loan authorization

Ladysmith Chronicle