BIM seeking long-term solutions for water problems

Blue Water Park and Eagle Cliff Water Systems are among those facing significant infrastructure challenges

It may be nearing the end of the dry season but two Bowen Island neighbourhoods are on stage four water restrictions. 

Blue Water Park Water System moved to the most severe stage of restrictions around Aug. 18 and Eagle Cliff Water System moved to stage four late last week. Both saw similar restrictions last year.

Each has ageing infrastructure and apparently no cheap solution. 

Last month, Bowen Island Municipality issued a request for proposals for four water infrastructure projects, closing Oct. 1. There are two major projects: connecting the Eagle Cliff Water System in with the Cove Bay Water System and improving West side water systems. And two smaller projects: a new water main along Williams Rd. and a new watermain along Scarborough Rd.

 

The Eagle Cliff Water System, supplying 109 properties on the Eastern edge of Bowen, has issues with water supply (the reservoir nearly ran out of water last year and this year is apparently at nearly the same level according to Local Advisory Committee chair Tim Misko), water quality (turbidity often exceeds recommended safe drinking levels) and flow for fire protection (it’s not capable of supplying suitable flow).

Noting that the reservoir is leaking and a cost estimate for improvements needed is in the $2.9 million range, BIM is proposing connecting the Eagle Cliff system with the Cove Bay Water System. This would mean a significant cost for Eagle Cliff users––in the $27,000 range––but BIM is hoping to apply for an infrastructure grant to cover the capital costs (about two-thirds of that number said BIM’s director of engineering Patrick Graham).

“I wouldn’t say we’ve finalized the preferred solution, [but] I believe that makes the most sense in the long-term,” said Graham. “There are substantial costs either way.” (Improving the existing system or connecting in with the Cove Bay system.)

Graham said that BIM has worked in a community consultation component to the work plan for the projects.

There are properties between the Eagle Cliff and Cove Bay municipal water systems that BIM is reaching out to to see if they would be interested in connecting into the system. Connecting to the municipal systems would involve an estimated $30,000 for each of those those properties, including an upfront $10,000 connection fee and $20,000 in debt servicing spread over 15 years. 

For the  short-term emergency plan,  dealing with Eagle Cliff’s current crisis, BIM has installed two storage tanks at the head of Highland Trail and has an agreement with Hood Point Water System to supply water if needed. (With the rain this week, it may not be necessary.) These measures will remain in place Graham said, as they won’t expect to have a long-term solution in place before next summer.  

 

The West side of Bowen has four water systems: Tunstall Bay, Bowen Bay, King Edward Bay and the problem-plagued Blue Water Park.

The Blue Water Park Water System currently meets demand by buying water from the King Edward Bay Water System. For the past two summers, residents of the 153 properties connected to the Bluewater system have seen their consumption limited––last year due to a massive leak and this year as the wells aren’t producing enough water. (There’s also the issue that the King Edward Bay water holding tank is lower than the Blue Water Park tank, meaning that the latter’s tank can only fill to 40 per cent capacity. Graham says water isn’t flowing back into the King Edward Bay system however, current and former Local Advisory Committee chairs disagree and have requested a valve installed to prevent backflow. Graham said at a community information meeting last week that a booster pump would be required to keep the Bluewater tank filled but that that still wouldn’t solve Bluewater’s problems.) 

But the West side’s issues aren’t limited to Bluewater. Neither the Blue Water Park nor Bowen Bay have “storage or distribution capacity to provide adequate flows for fire protection,” according to the request for proposals. Tunstall Bay’s reservoir tank needs replacing with possibly more storage space required and there may be water treatment improvements needed for multiple systems. 

“Options for improving storage capacity may include replacing or adding tanks for each water system at or near the existing tank, or providing larger shared reservoir tank(s),” said the request for proposals. 

Graham noted that while there haven’t been direct discussions with the second phase of the King Edward Bay development, Arbutus Ridge, there’s the potential to see if they’d be willing to put investment toward a shared reservoir. 

“All of these needs are something that we will be looking at in collaboration with the consultant team that we hire,” said Graham. Whether it be improvements to individual systems or a larger common reservoir is to be determined said Graham. 

“We need to do further analysis to understand what makes more sense,” he said. 

 

The municipality held community information meetings for each of the seven water districts over the past few weeks, available on the Bowen Island Municipality YouTube page. We’ll have more on these meetings, water issues and community reaction in next week’s paper. Have thoughts? Email editor@bowenislandundercurrent.com.

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