The town is looking for public feedback on their Liquid Waste Management Plan.
Residents will soon be getting a letter in the mail outlining some of the plans and asking for public feedback.
“The plan lays out what we are going to be doing for the next 20 to 50 years,” said Joe Friesenhan, director of public works.
At issue is the fact the town needs to upgrade their sewage treatment to a secondary level, as legislated by the B.C. government.
“All coastal communities have to be on secondary treatment.”
Currently solid waste is chlorinated and removed at the treatment facility. The by-product is then de-chlorinated and pumped out into the harbour.
This process is what is known as primary treatment.
At the secondary level, what is produced must be cleaner.
The cost of the secondary system is pegged at $12 million. Friesenhan said the town has applied for grants that, if received, will mean taxes will not have to increase. If the town is not awarded the grants, it could mean an extra $115 added to the sewer parcel tax in the next few years. Whether the increase is done in one year or over several will be up to council.
Friesenhan said a number of factors can delay a town in achieving secondary treatment, as there is extensive financing and planning involved.
In Ladysmith, the town was exploring an alternative, non-biological treatment (using electric currents).
“We were hoping it would help. We tested for five, six, seven years before we finally said, ‘OK, that’s enough, we’ve got to move on.’ “
“It had potential, but it wasn’t proven yet.”
In primary treatment, there is a maximum total suspended solids (TSS) and biological oxygen demand (BOD is the amount of oxygen needed for biological organisms to break down waste) of 135 mg/litre.
Using secondary treatment, the TSS and BOD levels reach a maximum of 45 mg/l. Tertiary treatment, if needed after further testing, would reduce the levels to below 10 mg/l.
If after further testing the levels are not acceptable, the town will have to look at further upgrades.
This could include extending the outfall pipe beyond Ladysmith Harbour’s embayment area at a cost of roughly $5 million or a $115 tax increase or increasing treatment to the tertiary level at a cost of $7 million or a $166 increase (that’s without grants).
At the town hall meeting, participants were asked if they would prefer extending the pipe or going to tertiary treatment if needed.
Out of the 79 people at the meeting 58 wanted to see the extra treatment, seven said they would prefer extending the pipe and 14 wanted more information.
“That’s a good thing,” said Friesenhan about the results.