Frequently asked questions about the Water Treatment Plant project

What is being built?

A water treatment plant is being built to provide additional cleaning and disinfection of Cove Bay Water.  This added treatment will satisfy the recommendation of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) to use improved treatment methods for Cove Bay Water.

How is the water currently treated, and is it safe to drink now?

The water is currently drawn from Grafton Lake and run through a screen that separates out dirt and debris. Chlorine is then added to provide disinfection.  Cove Bay water quality currently meets BC Drinking Water Protection Regulations, however the VCHA recommends incorporating a second method, such as filtration and/or UV disinfection to improve the water quality.

Why is Vancouver Coastal Health recommending Cove Bay Water build a water treatment plant?

Regulation of drinking water quality is a provincial responsibility. Each province and territory has developed legislation and/or policies to protect the quality of drinking water from source to tap. All jurisdictions base their requirements on the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and enforce them through legislation, regulation or permitting.

In most Canadian communities, drinking water is treated, stored and delivered to homes and businesses by the local government. The Municipality manages the day-to-day operation, maintenance and monitoring of the drinking water treatment and distribution to ensure the water delivered to consumers meets the required drinking water quality standards. Water quality standards for all districts in British Columbia are established by the BC Drinking Water Protection Regulation. VCHA has the authority to enforce the regulation through treatment standards and by attaching conditions to water system operating permits.

A VCHA Inspection report in January 2014 observed several violations and required the Municipality to submit a compliance plan to satisfy progressive treatment expectations.

Work and studies to date

  • 1997: Dayton & Knight recommended that the Cove Bay Water System develop a plan involving filtration to enhance water treatment and to monitor water quality both in the watershed in Grafton Lake.
  • 1998: Dayton & Knight produced a Cove Bay Water System Drought Management Plan.
  • 2001: Dayton & Knight presented a water treatment plant predesign with recommendations.
  • 2002-2003: Grafton Lake Watershed Study.
  • 2005: Cove Bay Water System Universal Metering Project was introduced. It took about 5 years to install water meters for all houses and businesses in the district.
  • 2009: Dayton & Knight presented the Cove Bay Water System Long Range Plan Update. Recommendations were that the available storage in Grafton Lake should be increased to match the storage allowed in the water licences by raising the spillway 20 feet, and that the Cove Bay Water System should seek to install a filtration system to better treat and secure its water supply.
  • 2012: Opus Dayton Knight produced a Cove Bay Water Conservation Plan.
  • 2012-13: Creus contracted the replacement of Grafton Lake Dam.
  • 2012-13: Opus Dayton Knight produced an Affordability Study on Water Treatment Plan, recommending a Dissolved Air Flotation Plant.
  • 2015: Bowen Island Municipality applied for funding but did not receive any grants.
  • 2016: Dayton & Knight (Opus International) looked into alternative treatments.
  • 2016: Bowen Island Municipality applied for funding of a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration plant and the grant was approved.
  • 2017: a Pilot Treatment Test is scheduled for July - November for sampling water quality.

What is a Pilot Treatment Test, and why is it necessary?

The first step in the project will be to set up a Pilot Treatment Test of the Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration technology. This step entails establishing a mini treatment plant housed in a container beside Grafton Lake.  This test will operate throughout the summer, and the resulting treated water will be analyzed to assess the finished quality.  The test is necessary to ensure the technology works for Grafton Lake water.  While there are several instances of this treatment technology in Canada and the United States, there are no similar plants located in British Columbia.  Earlier this year, Public Works Staff and the Engineering Consultant visited a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration plant in Vicksburg, Mississippi to research the technology and learn more about its operation.

What kind of filtration will the water treatment plant use?

The chosen technology is a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration system manufactured in Canada. Water is pushed through a ceramic filter. Particles that cannot pass through the ceramic pores flow to a thickener and the wastes can be hauled away or drained into settling ponds.

Why was Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration technology selected?

Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration was selected based on Water Sampling from Dayton & Knight and the Municipality in 2010-11. This technology was chosen because it is approximately 25% cheaper than traditional Dissolved Air Flotation plants, and is expected to cost significantly less per year to operate.

What are the benefits of Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration technology?

  • It can accommodate facilities needing a small “footprint”.
  • It can help to remove microscopic parasites from treated water by physically removing their cells.
  • It is very effective at reducing colour. Coupled with filtration, the Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration process will provide extremely clear water that is suitable for disinfection by Ultraviolet light. The primary issue for Cove Bay is colour and organics which are generally too light to settle on their own.
  • The Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration process is very effective at removing disinfection by-product precursors.  These compounds react with chlorine to product Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) both regulated disinfection by-products. Once these substances have been removed, it is possible that less chlorine will be required for primary disinfection and the taste and odour of the finished water will be significantly improved.

What water quality can we expect from a new plant? Will the Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration process improve my household water quality?

The new Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration facility is intended to deliver clean, clear, high quality drinking water. Users should experience a significant improvement in taste and odour with this updated treatment process.

How much will the treatment plant cost?

The estimated cost to build the plant is $5.7 million.

How will the plant be paid for?

The Provincial and Federal Governments have awarded a $3.8 million grant to Bowen Island Municipality to help pay for the water treatment plant. The Cove Bay Water System has about $1.5 million in reserves, and the remaining funds could be borrowed from the Municipal Finance Authority, or internally financed.

Will my water rates increase?

Most likely, yes. During the fall budget process, Council will be given options to finance the municipal contribution of the project.  Based on the choices made by Council, Cove Bay Water rates will be increased in order to meet the additional costs incurred to construct the plant, as well as the additional costs to operate the plant, estimated to be approximately $125,000 per year.  More information about the financial impact to Cove Bay Water users will be known when plant design is complete, and Council has endorsed a funding plan.

When will construction start?

Once the Pilot Treatment Test has been completed, the Detailed Design of the full scale plant can begin, likely in January or February of 2018.  Allowing for four months of design means construction could start next summer, and is expected to take about a year to complete.

Is the Detailed Design done yet?

No. The Detailed Design is expected to cost between $200K and $500K and take about 4 months to complete. Therefore, it will not be commissioned until the Pilot Treatment Test is proven for quality of water.

What is the difference between a Preliminary Design and a Detailed Design?

The Preliminary Design is ongoing at this time and is not complete. The report examines:

  • existing system, including water quality, quantity and licences
  • regulatory and permit requirements
  • environmental and geotechnical conditions of the site
  • design criteria
  • proposed treatment processes, including disinfection options
  • waste and residuals handling
  • installation or storage tank and  pump station
  • process controls and alarms

It includes the preliminary design drawings for the plant and site.

The Detailed Design will use the Preliminary Design report and drawings to create the detailed site, architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical drawings needed for the bidding and building processes.

Where will the new plant be built?

The chosen location for the plant is municipally-owned property located in between Grafton Rd and Carter Rd.  A second location to the east of Grafton Lake has been identified as an additional suitable location - however, this land is not owned by the Municipality. Locating the plant nearer to the lake at this alternative location would be subject to negotiation with the property owners.

What will the new plant consist of?

The main building is envisioned to be a single floor building with some infrastructure located in below-ground tanks. The main floor will house two ceramic “trains” with an option for an additional train to be installed when needed as flows increase in the future as well as all ancillary equipment such as pumps, pipes and electrical equipment. The building will also contain a small office, lab and bathroom, chemical room as well as chlorine equipment and, if needed, waste de-watering equipment. Finished water will be pumped to an above-ground storage tank.

Who’s going to build the new plant? Will it go to tender?

A project manager will be hired for this project and a number of select contractors with experience building water treatment plants will be invited to bid on the contract. The successful bidder will act as the Prime Contractor and sub-contract out specialized segments of the construction.

Will the building have any special features or amenities such as an office or meeting rooms?

There will be a small lab and office for the operator to conduct required water quality testing to manage the treatment process. The only other amenity will be a washroom.

Will the new plant structure allow for additional equipment to be added at a future date or will a building expansion be needed in the future?

The current design will allow for the future installation of additional Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration train treatment equipment, and is sited to allow for future expansion if required.

How long will it take to build?

Once construction starts, it is expected to take 8-12 months to build.

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