The District of Sechelt is now offering guided tours of the $25-million wastewater treatment plant currently under construction between Ebbtide Street and Surf Circle.
"This is a great opportunity to learn about how the new facility has been designed and will deliver state-of-the art wastewater treatment to our community," a press release from the District said.
The public can sign up for a tour by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The next tour is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m. Special tours can be arranged for groups of 10 or more.
Coast Reporter was invited to the inaugural public tour of the new treatment plant on Oct. 3, where project coordinator Paul Nash went over some of the plant's highlights.
Nash pointed to the project's adherence to Leader in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED) standards, which sees workers manage their construction waste and recycle where possible.
He also took tour participants to the edge of a culvert the District plans to rehabilitate as part of the project.
"The lower part of this culvert actually has fish habitat," Nash said, noting the area will eventually be made into a "meandering stream" that the public can view from a nearby pathway.
Right now the construction site is fenced to keep the project "safe and secure," and tours must stay far from the active crane, but the area will be open to the public in the future.
"In the end we want this whole area to be a fence-free zone," Nash said. "We want what we're doing here to be on display."
Part of what the District wants on display is the innovative use of plants in the sewage treatment process. A process called Organica will see plant roots support a thriving bacteria colony to help break down sewage. It will be the first time Organica will be used in Canada.
Nash said Organica greenhouses onsite would house "a hundred different plant varieties similar to a marsh." Those plants would be suspended in sewage that has been through a primary treatment process to further treat it.
When asked what kind of plants will be used, Nash noted, "They aren't all native but they are all locally available," and that Veolia, the company supplying the Organica process, is "happy to experiment with B.C. native plants."
In the end, Nash said, the process will yield water "suitable to recharge our drinking water aquifer," although the District has no plans to reuse the water at this time.
The other thing left over at the end of the treatment process will be processed sewage sludge, known as biosolids.
The District of Sechelt has yet to sign a contract with Salish Soils to compost those biosolids, but Nash said he expects the deal to be "finalized in the next two weeks."
Also expected soon is an announcement that the $11.2 million in gas tax and Building Canada funding for the project is in place.
Sechelt's new sewage treatment plant is scheduled for completion in November 2014.
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