The Comox Valley Regional District is moving ahead with plans to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, in an attempt to finally put an end to odour complaints from Area B residents who live near the facility.
The CVRD has budgeted spending $2.2 million on upgrades to the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre (WPCC) located on Brent Road. The CVRD’s Sewage Commission approved the upgrades last January.
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Pending approval of a new purchasing bylaw by the CVRD board later this month, as well as contractors chosen, the upgrades will take place this spring.
CVRD staff are currently putting out request-for-proposals for contractors to undertake the work before the summer, when odours from the facility are at their worst.
“It’s to get it done as soon as possible because the odours increase through the summer,” said CVRD capital projects manager Charlie Gore.
The upgrades include retrofitting the treatment plant’s existing scrubber (which has already been done), covering the primary clarifiers to contain and treat air through the scrubber before being discharged to the environment, and adding a state-of-the-art activated carbon polisher to further treat air before it is discharged.
The new infrastructure is hoped to be added by May, according to Gore.
“Odour control at the Brent Road facility is a huge issue and one we’ve been committed to fixing by spring of this year,” he said at the Jan. 16 Sewage Commission meeting.
“This will be up there with the best odour control systems that are out there.”
The WPCC is located in Electoral Area B and treats wastewater coming from Courtenay and Comox.
Area B director Rod Nichol said complaints about the facility’s odours have been an issue ever since he was elected, as well as when he was a director in the 1990s. According to old media reports, the facility has received odour complaints from nearby residents ever since it was built in 1984.
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Nichol said he was receiving two or three emails per day from Area B residents about the issue as recently as last month.
“Unfortunately, the odours from the treatment plant act like fog,” he said. “When you get a temperature inversion, the stink just sits down and it flows out into the neighbourhood.
“It’s pretty foul.”
Gore said if the CVRD board does not approve its new purchasing bylaw later this month, that staff will bring a recommendation for a contract award to the Sewage Commission at its February meeting.
“We really want to award this contract as soon as possible,” he told the commission on Tuesday.
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“What we’re proposing is, assuming the works all fit within the budget and that the purchasing bylaw is approved at the board meeting this month, at its fourth reading, then we can proceed to award these contracts immediately after reviewing the tenders.”