Sicamous’ ongoing water advisories are on the way out with the community’s new water treatment plant anticipated to be fully operational come January.
The District of Sicamous announced Wednesday, Dec. 16, that staff are in the final stages of commissioning the Mara water treatment facility, ”testing and demonstrating the plant can produce potable water at a rate that can sustain the community during peak demand.”
As a result, Interior Health has stated they support the district lifting the water advisory that has been in place since the flooding of 2012.
Mayor Terry Rysz has said the water plant should be fully operational by January, with a grand opening planned for February.
It was suggested by project manager Jean Lambert in September that the Mara water treatment facility would be fully operational earlier than anticipated – by the end of October. But Mayor Terry Rysz said the timeline was pushed back a bit on
The mayor says he’s anxious to turn the tap on and bring an end to the water advisories.
“It will even help increase property values once we get that boil water advisory off those signs,” said Rysz. “People can come into this community now without having to be concerned about the quality of their drinking water.
“I am very excited about having that project completed and we’re hoping to maybe improve on that wall of the water treatment plant as well. I’m not sure what we’re going to do there, maybe put a welcome to Sicamous sign or a mural of some sort on there or whatever. That’s in the future as well.”
The project budget for the plant was $7.9 million. Three million of that was provided in grant funding from the provincial and federal governments, approved when it was anticipated the plant would cost $4.5 million.
Having served as a councillor with the previous council, Rysz is currently the only one on council who has since day one been part of the process of making the treatment facility a reality. He admits council made some mistakes in that process, and believes the district could have received more funding from the federal and provincial governments if it had its “ducks in a row.”
“Interestingly enough, what we learned from this is when we’re looking at these projects in the future, the preliminary work needs to definitely be done and, unfortunately, that hadn’t been the case here in Sicamous,” said Rysz, noting the need for the water treatment facility was driven by the flooding of 2012 that resulted in the community being put in a state of emergency. “We’re always kind of being reactive instead of proactive, and I think this council is way more proactive. And so, we’re putting a process in place now that’s going to ensure in the future that we don’t have that sort of, I mean, we probably could have got another million dollars in funding!”
While the water treatment plant wound up costing more, Rysz says the district is getting much more in return, with a facility that will have greater longevity with room for expansion.
“And even though that got questioned, we have a state-of-the-art facility now and the technology is absolutely as good as it gets … so I think it will be a huge benefit for this community in a lot of different ways.”
Rysz says the grand opening will be open to the community, and that he intends to invite former mayor, Darrell Trouton, and the councillors and staff whose work helped make the Mara water treatment plant happen.