New Sicamous water treatment plant ends advisory
SICAMOUS – For the first time in over three years, Sicamous isn’t under any type of water notice.
“The community now is very excited. My phone has been ringing off the hook. Everybody is just elated with the fact that this water treatment plant is now in operation and they can drink their water safely from the tap,” says Mayor Terry Rysz.
The area had struggled with its water ever since major flooding hit the community in June of 2012, but a newly completed water treatment plant allowed them to finally lift the water quality advisory that was in place.
“There was no filtration happening prior to this,” explains the district’s public works supervisor Darrell Symbaluk. “We were drawing water from the lake and we were treating it with hypochlorites. It was being treated, but this plant enables us to run it through ultra-filtration so it is a higher quality of water.”
However, higher quality water comes with a hefty price tag. The budget nearly doubled from original estimates, jumping from $4.5 million to $7.9 million . That prompted complaints during the planning stages. Rysz believes the decision to increase the budget was the right one, because it means the plant is expected to last longer.
“This plant should be good for 40 years. It is going to be [here] far past my lifetime,” says Rysz. “That was the decision we made. We wanted to build something that was going to last the community a long time.”
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The provincial and federal governments contributed $3 million to the project back when it was expected to cost only $4.5 million. Rysz’s only regret is that the district didn’t wait to ask for the funds.
“The unfortunate part with this was that we kind of went to the government prior to getting the second model in place, so we had already established the price and both the provincial and federal government based their funding on the $4.5 [million]. That created a bit of a problem for the community,” says Rysz.
Rysz says right now it looks like the project will come in under the $7.9 million budget, at around $7.5 million.
Many hope the new water treatment plant will help Sicamous grow. The district’s chief administrative officer Evan Parliament believes the new plant coming on line is huge for the community.
“It’s part of our core infrastructure. We are excited because it is just one less obstacle we have to deal with when we try to move forward and bring investment into the community,” he said.
The official opening for the plant is expected sometime in the new year. Symbaluk says the water they are producing has been shown to be high quality and now officials are stress testing the components of the facility itself.
“We know that the product we are producing is safe and high quality but there are capacities within the plant that we want to make sure we test. Then we are going to consistently be able to deliver when there is peak demand,” says Symbaluk.