District pursues new engineering firm for waste facility

Committee finds better technology available for plant.

The District of Sicamous will be shopping around for another engineering firm to determine how best to proceed in upgrading the community’s wastewater treatment plant.

District council has agreed to put out a request for an expression of interest from engineering firms willing and available to “provide expertise in assessing the system that currently exists and facilitating necessary upgrades to the district’s wastewater treatment plant.”

According to a staff memo to council by public works supervisor Darrell Symbaluk, a “significant degree of work” has already occurred on the project under the guidance of TRUE Consulting Ltd. who got the ball rolling with an assessment of the plant and a subsequent report/presentation to council in January. During that presentation, TRUE’s Terry Underwood recommended several upgrades worth about $1.56 million. These, he explained, would bring the plant into compliance with the district’s waste management permit, as the amount of waste being discharged into the system, particularly organics, has, at peak times, been exceeding allowable capacity. Underwood said the upgrades would allow the plant to meet the needs of the community until 2025.

That $1.56 million estimate later jumped to $1.85 million when collection system generators were added to the plans for the district’s grant funding application to the Small Communities Fund. In July, it was announced that application had been successful, and the federal and provincial governments would be kicking in two-thirds of the needed funding ($128 million), with the district paying the rest largely through reserves and from development cost charges.

In October, a district wastewater treatment plant upgrade committee was formed consisting of Couns. Jeff Mallmes and Todd Kyllo and three members of staff. That body reviewed TRUE’s recommendations and, as Mallmes explained, found the district wasn’t getting good value for what they offered.

“There were some of us that saw some better technology…,” said Mallmes. “We need to hire the right engineering firm to actually head up what it is we’re going to be putting in, and help us make us a decision about what is a better technology, possibly with a longer service life than what we were offered by our previous engineering consultant.

“It may delay the process a little bit but I think in the end we’ll end up with a far superior product and hopefully it comes in close to what we have in the budget.”

Symbaluk notes in his memo that in proceeding under the guidance of a new engineering firm, it is likely the  “project would most assuredly meet increased capacity requirements with the newest technology but (is) likely to be delayed with budget overruns.”

Mayor Terry Rysz is optimistic this turn of events – initiated by the committee – will, in fact, result in cost savings to the district.

“So now we’ve got a better procedure in place, I think we’re going to save this community literally thousands of dollars… And we’ll get the best bang for our buck,” said Rysz.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Jan. 6, 2016. Those companies who submit expressions of interest will be shortlisted by staff, and then be invited to provide requests for proposals.