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Lake Cowichan water projects

Council hopes to be able to be able to start charging for water usage in 2013
Johel Brothers Contracting crew working on a section of South Shore Road.

As Lake Cowichan residents may have noticed, Joel Brothers Contracting has started digging up sections of South Shore Road, beginning a long term project to upgrade the town’s water distribution infrastructure.

Work began on this project on June 11, after council awarded the contract to Johel Brothers. This project is one of three the town has been working on for the past couple of years.

The first is the town’s water metering program. Nagi Rizk reported to council on June 5 and stated that 1,210 meters have been installed, or the majority of homes and businesses in Lake Cowichan. Those left to be installed go to a strata at which there were complications with installation and where “in house metering” is now being considered. Pricing has not yet been done for these houses and permission must be sought from each home owner in order to proceed.

Council hopes to be able to be able to start charging for water usage in 2013, and Rizk says that the town will begin to see reduction in water use by 2014. The water metering program is part of the town’s commitment, along with other municipalities in B.C., to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its carbon footprint as part of the provinces Climate Action Charter.

The project that now sees sections of South Shore Road being dug up, is a long term project that Rizk says is part of an initiative to meet provincial standards for municipal water flow and the town’s ability to meet maximum daily water consumption.

The town has until 2033 to finish these upgrades, and the ones that are being performed on South Shore Road at this time have in part been dictated by the timeline for the town’s Revitalization Project and subsequent repaving of the road by the province.

Rizk has been working with GeoAdvice, an engineering and consulting firm out of Coquitlam B.C., to map the town’s water systems. This will help to determine which areas need upgrades, and helps Risk take into account not only which sections need to be replaced, but also population growth within the town going into the future.

The third has to do with water treatment and safeguarding the town’s water source; Cowichan Lake. “It will require, most likely, filtration as a second barrier,” says Rizk. This means that the town has to comply with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) standards when it comes to second barrier filtration, which in Lake Cowichan’s case will most likely mean sand filtration.

“But that has not been determined. There should be more sampling done, there should be more monitoring done, and it’s a long term sampling and monitoring to the raw water.” This monitoring will determine the kind of treatment needed.

This second barrier issue, Rizk says, “does not warrant immediate action,” and, “has been postponed to 2015. By that time the second barrier should be in place.” He notes that the town’s water quality is already good compared to some other municipalities.

There has been an in-line turbidity meter installed at the pump station. This pump monitors suspended solids and the colouring of the water. “If the turbidity reading is less than one (per million) they (VIHA) might even wave that second barrier.”

The water metering project is the only one for which provincial funding was required. The other two projects will be paid for by funds put aside by the town, or through grants sought by mayor and council and the town office.