At a meeting on Oct. 30, Sechelt council announced that funding, approvals and partnerships are now in place for the $25 million wastewater treatment plant being built in Sechelt.
Council was waiting on written confirmation of $11.2 million of grant funding for the project as well as environmental approvals to make the contract to build the plant with Maple Reinders Inc. legally binding. Those conditions have now been satisfied, Sechelt Mayor John Henderson said.
In addition Sechelt needed to sign a contract with Salish Soils to pick up and compost any biosolids left over at the end of the sewage treatment process.
That contract is complete, has been approved by both parties and is now awaiting one final signature from Salish Soils’ lawyer, said Paul Nash, sewage treatment plant project coordinator.
“Waiting for the lawyers to sign off is sometimes like waiting for the second coming,” Coun. Chris Moore noted.
Nash assured the needed signature would come soon.
“It would take something dramatic for Salish to pull the rug at this point,” he said.
The contract between Salish Soils and Sechelt calls for the composting company to haul away biosolids for about $105 per wet tonne.
The biosolids would be stored on site until pick up was necessary, Nash said, noting current stats show about “1,020 wet tonnes” a year are produced. Those biosolids are currently used by Lehigh to fertilize their poplar tree plantation in a reclaimed portion of the mine site, at a cost to the District.
The cost to have Salish Soils deal with the biosolids would be about the same, Nash said, quoting a figure of around $123,000 a year. However, he said the new plant could lower those costs.
“The Organica treatment process claims to actually produce less solids than normal treatment processes, but exactly how much less depends on biological factors, so we’ll see what we get when it’s up and running. As a base case, we just assume we get what we get today,” Nash said.
One other sticky point council acknowledged on Oct. 30 was the possibility of the Sechelt Indian Government District (SIGD) opting out of being served by the new plant.
Currently the plan calls for up to $1.7 million to come from the SIGD; however, they have yet to reach an agreement with Sechelt.
If an agreement can’t be made, Sechelt will have to borrow the extra funds, bumping the already proposed $2.5 million in borrowing to $4.2 million.
The extra cost would be covered by the surplus currently generated by sewer user fees each year, Henderson said, adding the annual user fee of $392 per home benefiting from the service shouldn’t increase with the new treatment plant.