Fruitvale wastewater treatment to receive major upgrade

Village presented with $610,000 from federal Gas Tax Fund

Facing new Ministry of Environment requirements for wastewater treatment instituted late last year, the Village of Fruitvale began looking around to find a spare $600,000 to cover the expected bill.

They were between a rock and a hard place, forced to operate under requirements of their new operating permit for disinfected effluent released to nearby Beaver Creek, but unable to cough up the money to do so.

Three months later the search has culminated in success, with the landing of a Gas Tax Fund grant, announced last week by James Moore, senior minister responsible for British Columbia.

The upgrades — worth around $610,000 — will be covered completely by the grant, with no money coming out of village taxpayers’ pockets, another welcome aspect of the announcement said Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini.

“We had to do this. We were required to do this according to our new permit,” she said. “It’s always a worry when you are considering using taxpayer’s dollars for anything, so (to receive a grant) to cover it all, well, it’s a relief.”

The village’s Wastewater Treatment Plant will undergo several upgrades that are expected to improve water quality for people who use the popular creek for recreation, tourism and agriculture.

The treatment plant had been operated as a rapid infiltration (lagoon) system in past years, which is classed as a secondary treatment level. However, the treatment plant discharges water from that lagoon into Beaver Creek, a small creek in the area.

The grant pays for Phase 1 of a two-phase upgrade, including influent and effluent measurement, as well as disinfection of the effluent through UV treatment and chlorination. The second phase of the project will include an outfall diffuser in the creek.

Although the regional district’s Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) could eventually see the village connecting with Rossland, Trail and Warfield for wastewater treatment, sewage treatment plant upgrades will still be needed to be in compliance with the MOE operating permit.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s final LWMP is being formulated and the village is participating in the planning process, but Fruitvale chief administrative officer Lila Cresswell said it is expected to take a number of years before any new system is in place.

Fruitvale is the second Greater Trail community to receive a Gas Tax Fund grant in the last two weeks. On Jan. 27, a $1.3-million grant was bestowed on Montrose for water quality upgrades that include creation of a chlorination facility and replacement of a failing well.

The Gas Tax Fund is intended to support capital projects such as local roads, public transit, energy systems and waste management infrastructure.