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City of Williams Lake to seek federal funding to help build water treatment plant

The City of Williams Lake will be seeking federal funding for a future water treatment plant that could cost $18.2 million.

Council approved the application to the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program at Tuesday’s regular meeting and agreed for greensand filtration as the method for future water treatment for the City.

“We’re five steps ahead of most people on this particular grant application by putting this in tonight,” Councillor Scott Nelson said. “We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes. Our staff has been the energizer bunnies of putting together the information, working with the engineers, getting our community to a position to make some decisions to allow us to move forward to put it into a grant funding position.”

(supplied by City of Williams Lake)

If successful, the program would provide 73 percent in funding for the estimated capital cost of the project.

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Nelson said there are several ways for the City to fund its portion of the critical project including utilizing a number of their reserves or potential long term borrowing.

“I think it’s important to recognize the time commitments that we’re looking at here,” Councillor Ivan Bonnell said. “The next intake for these applications is at the end of February this year and this is the second go-around on these intakes with a reduced overall pot from last year’s intakes. We assume that if there’s going to be a third intake there may be even fewer dollars available for all of the competing communities that will be submitting applications. So it’s important that we get our application in so that it can be given priority consideration with the funds that are available this year.”

Bonnell said should they get a favorable response within the next 18 months, they will have time between now and then to have community consultation about the scope of the work and what it’s going to look like as well as they how they intend to fund it so there will not be pressure to increase rates unduly.

“The approach that we’re taking on our application is successful for the application but that’s not the long-term success for the water fund,” Bonnell said. “Because that will deplete all of the funds in the reserves and everything on that approach, so there will be some approach to borrowing probably. In my estimation, there should be and until we have that conversation with the community at large and everybody’s informed as to what the approach is on not only of the scope of the works to be undertaken but how it will be funded is then we’ll determine when we will seek the assent of the electorate to undertake the long term borrowing.”

Operating and maintenance costs of the water treatment plant are estimated to be $263,000 per year and maybe further increased by the potential addition of ion exchange backwash treatment. Manager of public works, Patrick Mahood noted to fund the increase in annual operating and maintenance costs an increase in residential and commercial water rates by at least 11.6% in the year the plant to become operational would be recommended.

Greensand filtration is a conventional method that been in service and improved upon since the 1950s. It uses a process of oxidizing manganese and removing it via filtration.

Sun Peaks, Lumby, and Falkland are examples of municipalities using this technology.

Greensand filtration has the opportunity to remove other parameters such as iron, ammonia, and arsenic.

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