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Down the drain
A proposal for a sewage treatment plant in Rossland has been flushed at the regional district level.
The regional Liquid Waste Management Plan steering committee elected in late November not to put option three—constructing a waste treatment facility in Rossland—on the docket when it goes to the public for input on funding regional waste treatment this year.
Rossland, through committee member and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary director for the city, Kathy Wallace, had been requesting the option for a new plant in Rossland be looked at again because it was potentially less expensive than option two, to build a completely new plant in Columbia Gardens area.
Of the three options being considered— option one is to upgrade the current site—capital-wise option three is less expensive, said Wallace.
But the committee—made up of Trail, Warfield, Area B and Rossland—felt the soil in Rossland was not right, the project could be more expensive to operate and that there was too much bedrock.
The city had done some percolation testing in an area that might work for a possible plant and the results proved the soil in Rossland was “do-able,” though not a great result.
“I argued that for $5,000 we could do a complete hydro geologic assessment and, if they were right, this conversation was over. But they would not back me up on that,” said Wallace.
But the Ministry of Environment said all options going to the public for consultation have to have the consent of all participants, and they don’t have Rossland’s, said Wallace.
“Because they would not back me up on that and have that assessment done, I’m not sure the conversation is over,” said Wallace.
The motion for the assessment, and subsequently for option three, was defeated—with Wallace in favour—and they instead put through a motion to place option one and two out for public consult.
But Wallace still thinks that option three has greater benefit that option two. Option three was to redo the plant at its current site but also put a new sewage treatment plant in Rossland, addressing a number of concerns that participating communities have had over the years with capacity.
With the amount of zoning in place up here, and larger developments, the projected population at build out was a concern, said Wallace.
“There has been some concern expressed by other communities that if Rossland becomes a much larger place, and the impact on the service from our temporary residents was factored in, there could be problems of capacity,” she said.
“(Option three) could have been a possible solution for a lot of these capacity issues within that planning document. Having a plant up here would address a lot of them, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way.”
Liquid waste management planning was mandated by the province for all municipalities and regional districts years ago, but the regional service shared between Rossland, Warfield, Area B and Trail was just primary treatment.
The city proposed construction of a stand-alone liquid waste treatment plant in Rossland and some upgrades to the existing plant in Waneta. Currently, there is a primary treatment plant shared in Waneta called the Columbia Pollution Control Centre.
It's the last primary treatment plant left in B.C. that is going into fresh water. Right now the plant is non compliant with federal and provincial regulations, but the regional Liquid Waste Management Plan planning process that started in 2008 questioned how to bring that plant up to regulation.
The first phase of planning for liquid waste was identification of options and three were put on the table: Upgrading the existing plant where it is; build a brand new facility for somewhere in the Columbia Gardens area (at that time Fruitvale and Montrose were participating in the process); and a stand alone plant to serve the Rossland population, but still as a piece of the regional service.
Option 3 (for Rossland) was dropped at the end of stage one when Fruitvale and Montrose were still involved in the planning.
After a very formal process to review the service at the request of the City of Trail, in early 2013 both Montrose and Fruitvale decided not to participate in the process. Montrose has a functioning plant, and Fruitvale was given the permission by the Ministry of Environment to upgrade what it had.