Hydro to cut off Campbell River’s water supply in 2018

City council wants to move forward with a cheaper, and safer option for the second part of the city’s new drinking water system

City council wants to move forward with a cheaper, and safer option for the second part of the city’s new drinking water system.

At the April 22 Committee of the Whole meeting, council endorsed a pump station concept over a gravity system, which is expected to carry a greater risk.

Jason Hartley, the city’s capital works manager, told council in a report that the pump station “introduces the lowest level of risk, results in greater system stability and provides lower future operating costs.”

He said the gravity system, which would involve a new connection to the city’s drinking water source at John Hart Lake using trenchless methods to install a deep bury pipe, was the riskier option.

“This option requires additional capital funding be identified and secured, is subjected to more volatile market conditions, introduces increased risk, results in greater downstream impacts and provides higher future operating costs,” Hartley said.

But BC Hydro had requested the city consider the gravity method which it believed could provide the best overall solution to the city. Hydro had also indicated the possibility of providing additional funding to the city if the anticipated cost increase associated with the gravity option fell within BC Hydro’s budget.

However, Hartley said following a comprehensive review of the two options, it was determined the pump station would be cheaper – costing $10.8 million as compared to $15 million for the gravity system – the risk assessment was lower, the construction would be easier and future operating costs would be lower. Hartley added that the chances that BC Hydro would be able to chip in more money were also significantly lesser than when Hydro first proposed the gravity system.

As a result, council chose to endorse the pump station option for the new lake intake connection.

The project is necessary in order for the city to continue to deliver drinking water to the community; the current system uses the three penstocks that BC Hydro will be removing as part of its John Hart Generating Station replacement project.

Council has agreed on a new system that will involve a new intake and pump chamber at John Hart Lake which will connect to a new large diameter transmission pipe connecting the city’s Elk Falls Water Quality Centre to the water system source.

The drinking water project is schedule to be done in two phases. The first phase – delivery and installation of the new transmission pipe – is currently underway near Highway 28 and is expected to be complete by the end of the summer.

Phase two involves the intake, pump chamber and connection to the Water Quality Centre. Construction of that portion of the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2016 and completion of the entire project is targeted for the fall of 2017.

Hartley said it’s crucial that timeline is adhered to because BC Hydro has advised the city that the current water supply for the city’s entire system will no longer be available as of January, 2018.

The entire drinking water project is valued at $16.6 million, with BC Hydro picking up 75 per cent of the cost, up to a maximum of $12.5 million, and the city paying for the remaining 25 per cent.

The city’s contribution is estimated to be $4.15 million and will be paid for through a combination of water capital and debt from borrowing.