Highlights from the October 3rd council meeting

Highlights from the October 3rd District of Barriere council meeting

Submitted by Colleen Hanigan, CAO

District of Barriere


Solar Aquatics Water Reclamation Centre

Sewer Gas Concerns, Reclassification and

Authorization to Discharge

Background: During public inquiries at the last council meeting a concern was raised and in turn council directed staff to provide a report on sewer gas monitoring in the Solar Aquatics Water Reclamation Centre. Recently a local social media post offered inaccurate information to the community regarding the re-classification of the plant from a Level Ill to a Level I. Also, on a number of occasions it has been queried whether or not the district has received its “Permit to Operate” for the Solar Aquatics plant. This report attempts to provide factual information to the public regarding these matters.

Discussion – Sewer Gas Concerns: Hydrogen Sulfide {H2S), often referred to as sewer gas, is created through the decomposition of waste in an anaerobic {without oxygen) environment such as a septic tank or closed sewer lines or sumps. It smells like rotten eggs, is heavier than air and can be lethal at high concentrations. At the Septage Receiving Station, at the bottom end of the wastewater system on Kamloops Street, there is a sensor that will detect H2S and an associated warning light for anyone approaching including septic haulers, staff and First Responders. This area will be dealing with septage from septic tanks. When septage is received at this location, aeration (02) will be introduced into it thereby killing off the anaerobic sulphur reducing bacteria that are responsible for the creation of H2S. This reduces the H2S concentrations in the septage and with it a reduction in the rotten eggs odour that venting septic tanks are known for. It is then mixed with the more aerobic wastewater coming to the Receiving Station via the pipes in the municipal collection system.

This aerated mixture then travels by force main to the large Surge Blending Tank on the north side of the Solar Aquatics site where a second large aerator is working. Once inside the greenhouse it flows through two trains of four large solar tanks, every other one of which is also aerated. The dissolved oxygen in these tanks is monitored and an alarm is sounded if the level of 02 dips below a set value.

The effluent then travels from the last solar tank through the rest of the process mechanical, most of which is in the well-ventilated basement of the Ecology Centre building. It does not sit for any length of time in any other tank where H2S could potentially develop. Only during irrigation season does the Class “A” effluent accumulate during the day in a large reclaimed water tank so that it can be pumped out into the irrigation system during the night. During the winter season it will flow almost continuously from the last solar tank in the greenhouse to the rapid infiltration basins underground along Airfield Road.

The locations within the Solar Aquatics Water Reclamation Centre where H2S could possibly accumulate if a pump was down and not noticed (sensor alarm was not functioning) is in the fully gasketed sumps that handle the internal washrooms/shower/sinks. Staff are trained in how to handle these situations and no one else would be opening or entering that or any other enclosed or confined space without the proper equipment.

The district has a Comprehensive Confined Space Entry Program that makes up part of the Occupational Health and Safety Program for the municipality. The Solar Aquatics Plant will be incorporated into this extensive document with a training component for all staff operating the plant. Confined spaces within this facility are documented in the District’s Confined Space Entry Program.

Reclassification: EcoTek, the design builder, originally completed the application to the Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) in February 2013 that resulted in the Level Ill classification of the Solar Aquatics plant. A Level II plant requires a Level III operator and since the district only has Level I and II operators on staff we would have to contract a Level Ill operator or equivalent to oversee the plant’s operation. Upon review of Mr. Rink’s detailed application, after receiving notification of the certification level, it was discovered that he had included items that were not part of the process design agreed upon by the district. These additions, which included a high scoring reference to aerobic digestion associated with the production of methane gas for collection and reuse, had elevated the scoring to a Level II.

A comment on social media that the reclassification (“downgraded”) was related to the fact that “the outflow must go to ground” was incorrect. From the beginning, the design always allowed lor seasonal variations as to where the reclaimed water was to be discharged. In the summer season it will be pumped at night, using high pressure (expensive) pumps, into the downtown parks, ball fields and cemetery irrigation systems that currently use drinking water. In the winter the outflow will bypass the ultramembrane fillers and the chlorination system and be pumped by smaller {more cost-effective) pumps into low pressure lines leading to the engineered rapid infiltration basins (discharge to ground) along Airfield Road.

Authorization to Discharge: On a number of occasions it has been queried whether or not the district has received its Permit to Operate for the Solar Aquatics plant. In 2000, provincial authorities began what they referred to as a “de-permitting” process. Prior to that date sewer plants were indeed issued permits with an expiry date but this has since been changed. Under current legislation an application for “Registration under the Municipal Wastewater Regulation” is made to the Environmental Protection Division of the Ministry of Environment. Once a complete application has been received, reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Environment, a letter is issued to the owner which specifies a registration date.

The Barriere Solar Aquatics Water Reclamation Centre’s official date of registration is Oct. 21, 2015. As of that date, we can legally discharge waste to the environment from our facility, provided the conditions and requirements of the Municipal Wastewater Regulations are met. “II is the responsibility of the discharger to ensure that the works are adequately designed, constructed and operated and that the discharge quality complies with the regulation.” During startup, it is understood by the Ministry that: It takes two to three weeks to stabilize and produce an effluent that consistently meets the discharge requirements. Monitoring and testing are more frequent during this time.

Wells Gray –North Thompson and Robson Valley Global Geopark Implementation Plan Terms of  Reference Funding:

The TNRD received a $10,000 project development grant from the recent Rural  Dividend funding towards  further investigation into the feasibility of  this  geopark  project and  has  asked that  the District’s of Barriere and Clearwater along with each North Thompson TNRD Electoral Area north of McLure put in an additional $2,000 towards this work. Since this is a marketing initiative and the District relies on the Lower North Thompson Tourism Society for tourism initiatives, the society has agreed to fund the district’s portion of this request.

The consultant will be required to provide the following:

• Systematic step by step approach that will result in a status change from Aspiring Geopark to UNESCO Global Geopark designation;

• All requirements related to maintaining long term UNESCO Global Geopark status;

• Strategies that could lead to long term financial sustainability; and,

• Detailed costs.

Resolution Regarding 15 per cent Holdback:

Mayor Smith presented her argument to the floor at UBCM in support of the District of Barriere’s resolution regarding the reduction of the 15 per cent holdback by UBCM on projects being reduced to 10 per cent and being released at the end of each project phase instead of at final completion of the entire project.

Our resolution has been endorsed by the membership.

Bradford Wells Update:

BC Groundwater has commenced production well drilling at Bradford Park with JR Drilling. Thierry Carriou reports that, “The Ø 6” pilot bore was successfully completed on the 27th to a depth of 300 feet.

The target aquifer at Production Well No. 1 (PW1) is very productive. It is similar to the test well, but thinner (48 ft vs. 60 ft) and grading to a more uniform sandy matrix. We are pleased with the results and they are consistent with the geology of this area. The Ø 6” pilot casing has been removed in preparation  for drilling the larger production well casing. Drill cuttings are being processed at our soils lab in Kamloops to fine-tune the screen design for ordering.

The only surprise to report is that the PW1 pilot bore intercepted a very dense (hard) confining layer from 207 – 227 ft. This was not observed in the test wells drilled in 2009 or 2016. We are taking precautions as this has the potential to damage the Ø 12” production casing.

Our work program includes alignment inspection of each production well. As a proactive measure, we will perform an interim inspection of the PW1 production casing when it reaches the top of the dense layer.

An under-reamer will be utilized to advance a slightly oversize bore through this layer in order to advance the casing with as little resistance as possible to maintain casing integrity. This specialty drill bit will also be used to advance through the aquifer with the option of reverting back to the standard tri-cone bit.

We will perform an inspection at the completion of drilling to confirm casing integrity (prior to ordering the screen).

BC Groundwater has completed pre-design of the PW1 production screen based on the pilot bore findings and our general sense of the sediments encountered in the target aquifer. We are currently evaluating two options (below) in addition to contingency measures which is our standard practice on all projects.

Option A

35 ft production screen (design aperture 0.040”)

68 L/s screen maximum

45 L/s screen recommended 45 L/s (730 USgpm) assuming Safety Factor = 1.5

Actual yield determined by the aquifer

Option B

25 ft production screen (design aperture 0.060”)

Similar screen maximum

Actual yield determined by the aquifer

We are looking forward to successful completion of PW1 and PW2. We will keep you informed of our progress.

Barriere River Water Level Monitoring:

The equipment used by Environment Canada to monitor flood levels in the Barriere River is being moved from the southwest side of the Yellowhead Highway bridge to the southwest side of the Barriere Town Road bridge for more accurate and efficient monitoring by the Water Survey of Canada. The equipment will be located in the road allowance above the normal high water level.