Village of Fruitvale gets tax grant to continue wastewater upgrades

Fruitvale will continue to upgrade its Wastewater Treatment Plant thanks to a grant from Canada's Gas Tax Fund.

The Village of Fruitvale can continue its significant upgrades to the community’s Wastewater Treatment Plant thanks to an infusion of almost $500,000 provided through Canada’s Strategic Priorities Gas Tax Fund grant.

“This will bring us up to standards for the next considerable while,” said Lila Cresswell, chief administrative officer.

Cresswell said that the Phase 2 plans are in the design stage, and before any work proceeds, an environmental impact study will have to be completed.

“If our population continues to grow significantly, then we will have to meet new standards, which are always being issued by the federal and provincial authorities,” she explained.

Cresswell said that once the study is complete and an end design is chosen to best meet the needs of the village, the project will be tendered out in stages.

“The engineering and design of the system we choose is highly specialized work,” she said.

“Depending on what the end design looks like and how it will be phased in, the work will be contracted out in pieces.”

Phase 2 of the upgrades are meant to supplement the recent sewage treatment lagoon upgrade by improving river outfall and optimizing the treatment system. The project includes: supply and installation of an outfall diffuser; upgrades to the aeration system; construction of a lagoon bypass line with flow measurement; and associated electrical, civil and mechanical work.

Early last year, the village received $610,000 from the Gas Tax Fund to complete Phase 1 of the two-phase upgrade.

Phase 1 is currently underway and includes the design, supply and installation of ultra violet irradiation for effluent disinfection with a chlorination back-up system.

For years, the treatment plant had operated as a rapid infiltration (lagoon) system, which is classed as a secondary treatment level.

However, the treatment plant discharges water from that lagoon into Beaver Creek, and in 2011, the Ministry of Environment issued a new and more stringent operating permit for disinfected effluent released into the creek.

Cresswell said that since that time, the village has been responsible for a significant amount of testing both up and down stream; to ensure that the effluent is non-toxic.

“Incidentally our outflow is very high quality,” she said.

“But what we are noticing is that we have a lot of infiltration and inflow, especially during high rain events,” she explained.

“That extra water in turn results in a high level of water coming out (effluent) and we need to reduce that amount.

“That is the concern at the moment.”

The Gas Tax Fund is intended to support municipal infrastructure projects that contribute to cleaner air and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More specifically, the Fund supports capital projects such as local roads, public transit, energy systems, and solid waste management.

The upgrades to Fruitvale’s Wastewater Treatment Plant are to improve water quality for residents who use Beaver Creek for recreation, tourism and agriculture.

In turn, the upgrades are meant to improve energy efficiency and reduce the impact on the environment.