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City’s water-treatment plant a year away

White Rock public meeting summarizes technologies and research
Utility director Dr. Saad Jasim explains processes for filtering arsenic and manganese selected by the city. (Alex Browne photo)

A public meeting on the water-treatment technology being developed by the city drew close to 200 people to White Rock Community Centre Thursday evening.

Information available to residents was confined to display boards and what could be gleaned from individual conversations with city officials, including utility director Dr. Saad Jasim, city engineer Jim Gordon and Trevor Cooke, engineering manager for NAC Constructors, the company contracted to build the city’s Goggs Avenue treatment plant.

But among the tidbits being dispensed to the crowd were that, according to the current timeline, the plant – aimed to remove naturally occurring arsenic and manganese deposits from White Rock’s water supply – could be complete as soon as a year from now.

Jasim told Peace Arch News that under the design-build contract with NAC, the design for the plant is being created and adjusted through the duration of the project, rather than approving designs and putting them out to tender before construction is started.

“Design-build is the fastest thing to do,” he said. “A tender (process) could put us behind by four to five months.”

Cooke said that some 30 per cent of the design work has already been completed by the company, for which past credits include the Seymour Capilano water-filtration plant, the Sperling pump station in Burnaby and the design-build of the Chilliwack wastewater treatment plant.

“About 50 per cent will be done by Feb. 16,” he said. “We have to have the plant built and fully functional by Jan. 30 of next year. We’re hoping to pour concrete by November.”

Credits for the engineering firm for the project, Brybil Projects Ltd., include water-treatment plants in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Abbotsford and in the Yukon, with, in Metro Vancouver, the Clayton, Fleetwood and Jericho reservoirs.

The majority of funding for the treatment plant comes from almost $12 million in federal and provincial grants received in 2017.

Display charts summarized testing the city utility has done in partnership with research organization RES’EAU-WaterNET to identify the best technologies and methods for reducing arsenic and manganese in city water.

The objective is to keep arsenic well below the 0.010 mg.-per-litre maximum allowable concentration set in 2007 by Health Canada in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, and manganese below the 0.05 mg.-per-litre limit set as an esthetic target by the guidelines.

Based on the testing, the city has opted to utilize the filter media GreensandPlus as a key component in the arsenic and manganese removal process.

The media must be disposed of regularly at an as-yet unspecified landfill location, Jasim acknowledged, but the good news is that “it will be about 10 years before we need to dispose of it – the U.S.-based company that produces it has warrantied it for 120 months before it must be changed, based on examination of our water flow and quality.”

The city purchased the water utility in Oct. 2015 from Edmonton-based EPCOR. Since the aquisition, the utility has increased water storage capacity by 33 per cent.

Jasim said a further public meeting to lay out the city’s overall water system master plan (addressing the city’s water needs to 2045) will take place on Feb. 21, and another is planned for World Water Day on March 22.

Residents read some of the many display boards at the meeting. (Alex Browne photo)