The City of Campbell River’s largest ever capital project is now up and running as water has begun flowing to parts of Campbell River through the new Campbell River Water Supply Centre.
“It was a seamless transition as we began to draw water from the new intake in John Hart Lake in late March, and the community water system is now fully independent of the BC Hydro penstocks that were formerly in use. This step was a major milestone for the project and required a high degree of planning to ensure it went smoothly,” Nathalie Viau, the city’s water supervisor, says in a press release. “Water flowing from the new lakeside facility is disinfected with both chlorine and ultra-violet radiation and our water quality consistently meets and even exceeds Canadian drinking water quality standards.”
“Council applauds the efforts of our capital works team who continue to keep this complicated, multi-year project on budget and on schedule. This is Campbell River’s largest infrastructure project to date, and we recognize it has been a massive effort for the capital works and water departments, with a few more steps before it’s complete,” says Mayor Andy Adams. “We also recognize the efforts of all the water department employees whose involvement in all aspects of the project was critical to the smooth transfer to the new water supply centre without any interruption in this essential service.”
The project actually had to amend its original budget in 2016 when construction costs forced council to borrow $2.036 million to make up a shortfall in the project. But since that amendment, the project has stayed and come in on budget.
That amendment also increased the capacity of the system and deferred the need for related infrastructure to be added later, the mayor said.
“By increasing the capacity and making that amendment in 2016, we’re actually saving in excessive of $16.5 million,” Adams said. “By making the amendment in 2016, adding to the project’s scope, that has now meant that we have capital infrastructure projects that were plalnned that are no longer required because we’ve got the capapcity with the existing system.”
Next up, the new water supply system will be connected to additional transmission water mains along Highway 28 and to the north system that serves the Gordon Road and industrial park areas.
“We would like to remind people to be mindful of water use as we bring additional mains into service. In time for summer, all three main lines will be back on duty,” Viau adds.
BC Hydro is funding the majority of the construction cost for the City of Campbell River’s new water supply system because BC Hydro penstocks, the city’s previous connection to the water source, are being removed as part of the $1.1 billion John Hart Generating Station replacement project. The new system includes the Campbell River Water Supply Centre, a pumping and treatment facility on the shores of John Hart Lake, 3.5 kilometres of large diameter watermain along Highway 28 and Brewster Lake Road, and a connection to the existing John Hart Pump Station on the north side of John Hart Lake. The city water withdrawal infrastructure is located on BC Hydro property.
“We congratulate the city team for keeping the work on schedule so that BC Hydro can shift water flows from our 70-year-old penstocks to the new underground tunnel,” says BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson. “We also developed mutually-beneficial solutions over the course of this project to better meet both parties’ needs as we look well into the future.”
The entire drinking water project is valued at $29.1 million, with BC Hydro’s contribution at $18.3 million. The city’s cost to fund the water intake project and additional synergies through water projects completed at the same time was $10.8 million, paid through a combination of water capital reserves and debt from borrowing. The city balances the use of internal reserves and debt borrowing to fund significant infrastructure upgrades to ensure sustainable and incremental user fee increases under the City’s Financial Stability & Resiliency Program.
Campbell River’s water system distributes potable water for domestic, commercial and industrial use as well as fire protection via watermains running throughout the community and to customers on local First Nations reserves and in a portion of Strathcona Regional District Area D.