A Billion Gallons Late….

30 years ago, in 1992, the new Gulf Island Senior Secondary school was constructed. As part of the process and planning, additional water lines were placed alongside Rainbow Road for the future transportation of reclaimed water from the Ganges Sewer plant. The reclaimed water would be used for watering the school fields.

The Ganges Sewer plant pumps out about 113,000 gallons of water into Ganges Harbour each and every day. The majority of the water originally comes from Lake Maxwell.

The maximum for suspended solids (TDS) for streams bearing fish is 25 parts per million (ppm). Ganges Sewer treated water is 1 ppm.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is how much oxygen does water use to decompose organics. The allowable limit for BOD is 25 ppm…clean surface water would be 5 ppm or less….the Ganges plant’s water is just 3 ppm, about the same as St. Mary Lake.

Fecal coliform limit is 1,000 per 100 millilitres of water. The limit if you want to use a stream or lake for a water source is 100 per 100 ml of water. The Ganges effluent is about 25…

Thus, if the remainder of the water was treated to remove phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, pharmaceuticals, etc. (easily done with reverse osmosis), the water would be drinkable.

A number of years ago I had contacted the Ministry of Environment inquiring what level of treatment is required to make the water useable for irrigation/landscaping. I was informed, due to its already highly treated state, it would need a relatively simple filtration, UV treatment (e-coli) and flocculation (to remove any potential viruses).

Along with others, I have been asking the question as to why the recycling of the water has not, in 30 years, been accomplished.

On August 30, 2018, just before the last election, the School District approached the Ganges Sewer Commission and asked if the District could pay for a study to be done to determine exactly what was necessary in order to move the potential recycling into reality.

The following is from the minutes of the meeting:

Mr. Pingle was present on behalf of the School District #64 to answer any questions
regarding their request for a feasibility study to utilize the wastewater effluent from the
Ganges Sewer to water playing fields.
• Last year NSSWD permitted field watering at a cost of $30,000; this year no
watering was allowed and fields will cost $15,000 to repair and are unusable for
fall/winter sports.
• Appears to be an ongoing issue with a potential solution.
School District is offering to pay 100% of the feasibility study which would
determine scope of work, governmental approvals and regulatory requirements,
estimated capital costs and governance o
f a new local service.

• The CRD has previously studied the use of reclaimed waste water and will share
any gained knowledge.
• Consider consultation with municipalities currently using reclaimed wastewater.
• SD64 would provide land for reservoir tank.
• Potential for additional community uses to be determined

The Commission moved to go forward with the offer.

That the Ganges Sewer Local Services Commission agrees in principle to the use of
reclaimed wastewater by School District 64 to irrigate playing fields adjacent to
Rainbow Road; and that the School District will fund a feasibility study which includes
consideration of other community uses.

Then, on October 27th, 2020, the budget showed that funding for the $50,000 study had been switched from the School District to Community Works Funds….

And then, on October 14, 2021, the budget showed the funding had been increased to $57,500 and now was not being paid for by either the School District or Community Works Funds, BUT, by the Ratepayers.

I inquired why/how/when the two changes had been made, and was informed Community Works Funds would not allow money to be spent on studies.

However there was no reasonable explanation as to why RATEPAYERS were picking up the $57,500 tab for the study instead of the School.

It appears that for some reason the School funding was turned down. It appears someone other than the Commission made the decision for the Ratepayers to fund the study, because there are no such decisions showing in the minutes.

I lay the blame of this over taxation of the Ganges Sewer Ratepayers at the feet of Director Holman. Likewise I lay the fact the study has not yet been completed at his feet.

The budget in the just posted agenda for the October 7, 2022 Ganges Sewer meeting shows that the study has now been shunted off to 2025. Given the previous delays, I would be surprised if it is completed before the NEXT election in 2026. https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/crd-document-library/committeedocuments/gangessewerlocalservicecommissionssi/20221007/2022-10-07agenda.pdf?sfvrsn=ec7e86cd_2

About 113,000 gallons…a day….@ 50 gpd per person, is enough to supply 2,260 people each and every day…on an island where we hear, virtually every week, we don’t have any/enough water.

30 years x 113,000 gallons per day = 1.2 BILLION GALLONS which has been flushed out into Ganges Harbour.

Since 1992, our current CRD Director, Gary Holman, has been a CRD Director for 3 terms of office (2002-2005, 2005-2008, 2018-2022, and 1 term of office as our MLA.

He has had his 3 chances to do something about one of our most precious, underutilized, resources on the island, and its time someone took over that can get something accomplished in less than the next 4 years….you know…like the Boardwalk.

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