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Planning for new Nelson sewage treatment plant will take three years

Grant will fund a liquid waste management plan
Nelson’s sewage treatment plant at Grohman Narrows. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

It could be at least five years before Nelson has a new sewage treatment plant, even though the current plant is operating beyond its capacity and occasionally releases partially treated sewage into the Kootenay River.

To replace the aging facility, the City of Nelson will begin by applying for a $350,000 federal-provincial government grant.

That funding will be used to create a Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP). The grant program’s elaborate and stringent funding guidelines require that the grant be used to hire technical consultants, produce reports, study public health, look at environmental issues, and consult the public, a process that will take a total of three years. Then construction can begin.

At its June 28 meeting, council authorized Nelson’s public works director Colin Innes to apply for the grant.

Construction costs for the new sewage treatment plant, once the LWMP is in place, will come from the city’s $10.6 million wastewater capital reserve fund, to which the city has added an annual budgeted amount for several years in anticipation of this cost.

Nelson’s sewage treatment plant is located near the shore of Kootenay Lake at Grohman Narrows. It releases sewage that has been given primary and secondary treatment into the Kootenay River.

Primary treatment means filtering and settling out of solids, while secondary treatment sees the remaining material broken down by bacteria and ultraviolet light.

Between 2017 and 2020, the plant, on 15 separate occasions, has accidentally released a combined total of more than 3,000 cubic metres of partially treated sewage into the Kootenay River, according to provincial government documents.

A second planning process

The liquid waste management plan is not the only sewage treatment planning process the city is engaged in.

The Sanitary Sewage Master Plan, now under development by a consultant, will look at the whole system throughout the city: sewer pipes, lift stations, stormwater drainage, whereas the LWMP is focused on the treatment process itself, Innes said.

One of the issues the master plan will address is the problem of storm water flowing in the same pipes as sewage, and overwhelming the sewage treatment plant during storms.

Innes told council that the two plans – the LWMP and the Sanitary Sewage Master Plan – will eventually merge and complement each other.

“They will dovetail quite nicely,” he said.


Sewage from Nelson treatment plant runs into Kootenay River during storms: environment ministry

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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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