MAJORITY OF NEIGHBOURS PLEASED WITH COUNCIL’S ‘COMPROMISE’ DECISION TO DUMP EFFLUENT IN CRUSHED ROCK INFILTRATION BASIN
The majority of Dividend Ridge residents who complained vehemently about a proposal to dump excess effluent from the town’s wastewater storage lagoons into a sandpit area south of the Desert Park racetrack facility were pleased with town council’s “compromise solution” to build an infiltration basin made of crushed rock near the sandpit site.
After almost two months of controversy, council voted unanimously Monday to build a “disposal field” measuring 10 metres by 70 metres. Reclaimed water would be distributed by a layer of crushed rock 0.6 metres in thickness and distributor pipes.
The disposal bed could handle flows of 500 cubic metres per day and will be separate from the existing storm water infiltration area in the sandpit area. The original town plan proposed dumping 1,000 cubic metres per day for 165 consecutive days into the sandpit.
“Separation is necessary to avoid the possibility of a storm water event having high suspended solids from clogging the disposal bed,” said the town’s chief administrative officer, Barry Romanko, during a presentation to council. “Piping would, therefore, be required the complete length between the existing Desert Park booster and the proposed disposal bed.
“As compared to the project as (previously) tendered, the infiltration basin grading and perimeter fencing would be deleted. The disposal bed would represent an additional cost of about $40,000 to the Superior Excavating tender of $105,510 … the contract sum of the Superior tender would revise from $126,000 to $93,408.”
Council also unanimously passed another motion that the Desert Park sandpit area will never be considered as a site for a future storm water lagoon.
Council’s motion also included language to “fast track” the design, tender and construction of the reclaimed water booster station and irrigation mains to land near the Osoyoos Airport and water storage bladder bag area located near Osoyoos Secondary School and to have these systems operational by the spring of 2013 to assist in the reduction of historical surpluses of effluent in the town’s lagoons.
All discharged effluent into the infiltration basin area will be done on a demonstration basis with consultation from representatives from the Dividend Ridge neighbourhood, said Romanko.
“We will carefully monitor the storage reservoir elevations through the winter and into the spring of 2013,” he said. “If a storage capacity deficiency problem is identified, resolution strategies are irrigation of Desert Park and/or use of the existing infiltration area in the sandpit.”
Mayor Stu Wells said he thinks this solution is a great compromise as all excess effluent will be absorbed into the crushed rock basin, which will ensure no foul odours or unsightliness for homeowners in the Dividend Ridge subdivision.
The fact the storage lagoons don’t need to be emptied as much as originally thought two months ago also makes this option more palatable as only 500 cubic metres will have to be emptied over the next two months, instead of 1,000 cubic metres for more than five months, said Wells.
“”I don’t think I could support anything there unless it’s underground,” said Wells before council made its final vote. “I see this as a bit of a compromise that works for everyone.”
Coun. Sue McKortoff agreed, saying a lot of time, effort and consideration was put in by the town’s engineer Terry Underwood in coming up with numerous options. She believes building an infiltration bed and installing piping for the same cost as expanding the proposed sandpit site is a better solution.
“What he has come up with makes a lot of sense to me and hopefully to the people up at Dividend Ridge,” she said. “”We do need a safety valve (to get rid of excess effluent from the storage lagoons) and I feel this is a very good option.”
Brian Rothwell, one of about 25 neighbours who packed council chambers for council’s decision Monday, said he believes this compromise is one he and most neighbours can live with.
“From my perspective, and I’m speaking solely for myself and not as a representative for the group, I really believe council worked very hard in coming up with a proposal that does work at this point in time,” he said. “The infiltration system will keep this stuff underground into these rocks and should address all concerns about foul odours.
“Council has also agreed to fast-track piping to the airport and behind the school. Once again, I speak solely for myself, but I believe council has compromised quite well and come up with a plan I can support.”
When a group of 20 neighbours gathered outside town hall following council’s vote, the vast majority seemed very pleased with the proposal.
Rothwell said he’s impressed council was willing to listen to the concerns of so many residents who vehemently opposed dumping excess effluent into the sandpit.
“I really believe democracy still works and I think the power of the people really came through and made a difference in this process,” he said. “I’m very pleased for all the people who worked so hard to make things happen. I honestly believe our stance made council reconsider and come up with a viable alternative most of us can certainly live with.”
The town “still needs to address the key issue of long-term effluent disposal in this community” to ensure similar problems don’t surface in the future, said Rothwell.
All effluent dumped at the infiltration site will be metered and monitored so all neighbours will know exactly how much effluent is being dumped, said Wells.
Coun. C.J. Rhodes said while he supports council’s decision, he remains “somewhat conflicted with this whole process … as nothing here today helps us with the immediate problem of breaching our storage ponds.
“I’m still not convinced this is the right solution.”
Coun. Michael Ryan said he likes the recommendation to fast-track piping to the airport and behind the high school next spring.
“We have no way of releasing excess from our ponds as we can’t spray in the winter,” he said. “Next year we will be able to put it in two new places.”
Ryan said he supports scientific studies to see if reclaimed water would be safe to be used to irrigate orchards and vineyards in the area as this could also help greatly with getting rid of excess effluent in the future.
After the vote, Wells reiterated he believes council has come up with a solution everyone can live with.
“I think we have delivered and I think we have been good leaders in this,” he said. “It will be monitored and I’m pretty comfortable with this.”
It should only take a couple of weeks to build the infiltration bed with crushed rock and install piping, said Wells.