Shallow second system suggested for Uplands project

Special committee of the whole meeting will review the report and hear feedback Oct. 5 at Oak Bay United Church at 6:30 p.m.

Nils Jensen

With the consultant report in, Oak Bay’s provincially mandated sewer separation project in Uplands is up for public preview Wednesday.

McElhanney Consulting Services recommends a new shallow gravity stormwater system augmented with municipally owned stormwater pumping stations for roadway runoff, with the existing pipe used as a sanitary sewer.

The Uplands neighbourhood currently has a single pipe system to convey both sanitary sewage and storm water.

During heavy rainfall, the volume of water exceeds the capacity of the system, sending overflows into the ocean at the Rutland and Humber pumping stations.

“I think it’s a well thought out and balanced recommendation. It takes into account our environmental concerns – we wanted to eliminate as quickly as possible the sewage spills on our coastline,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “What’s being recommended will give us the fastest and quickest way to avoid spills of sewage on the beach. If we decide to have the new pipe being a sewer line rather than stormwater we wouldn’t really see any effect until the whole system is up and running and that could take years.”

The geotechnical report recently revealed the project could see up to 50 per cent increase in the overall cost because of rampant shallow rock throughout Uplands.

“The cost of blasting that rock is going to be expensive. That’s something that came as unwelcome news but we’re mandated to do this. One of the things that’s become very clear as a result of the rock study we did recently is there is a significant difference in capital cost upwards of $9- or $10-million added in order to put pipes deeper in the ground,” Jensen said.

“We now also know that going deeper will be significantly costlier because of the rock encountered. The recommendation reflects that.”

The total capital cost for the recommended option is an estimated $21.5 million; taking into account a 30 per cent contingency allowance and 20 per cent for other soft costs. Jensen notes the cost outlines are still only a “best estimate of professionals.”

Average annual operation and maintenance, over a 50-year period, for the district is estimated at $91,000 – $46,000 for the district and $45,000 for homeowners. As the system ages over the 50-year duration, pumps or line breakdowns are expected.

“I’m quite confident in the early years we’re going to have low operating costs, but as age sets in, as with anything, more care is needed to maintain the infrastructure,” Jensen said. “Nice new pipes are easy and cheap to maintain, 25 years down the road things need to be replaced.”

Residents can have their say at a special committee of the whole meeting Oct. 5 at Oak Bay United Church 1355 Mitchell St. starting at 6:30 p.m.

The public is welcome to submit correspondence for inclusion on the agenda to the Deputy Director of Corporate Services at mjones@oakbay.ca or by mail to 2167 Oak Bay Ave., Victoria BC, V8R 1G2 before 3 p.m. on Oct. 5.

“Residents will want to know two things: cost to them and when and under what circumstances the residents will be required to hook up,” Jensen said. “That’s going to be a focus of a lot of discussion, both of those issues.”

Already, 12 per cent of the homes in the Rutland catchment and 39 per cent of the homes in the Humber catchment have separated sewers to the property boundary. Of the 391 homes in Uplands about 91 already have separate systems to the property line.

“For those homes it is a question of hooking up,” Jensen said. “As we go along, we will be encouraging each homeowner on the street to hook up.”

Currently, Oak Bay would mandate sewer separation and connection to the separated municipal sewers when available for new construction in Uplands; mandate sewer separation for homes that face renovations of $100,000 or more; and connection to the separated municipal sewers when available.

“That’s still the approach council felt was the fairest, but will be subject to discussions and what we hear from our residents,” Jensen said.

Visit www.oakbay.ca to see the staff report, including the consultant’s final technical report.

Committee of the whole is expected to make a recommendation to council on a sewer separation option to move to the detailed design and implementation stage.

“We will look to see if there’s a consensus on choosing a recommended project,” Jensen said. “Those decisions can only be made when we’re sitting as a legislative council.”

The next council meeting is Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at municipal hall.