Hope for rural water systems

Click on an image for slide show.

CHASE — The official opening of the Village of Chase water treatment plant drew a good crowd Friday morning (Feb. 13, 2015) as Mayor Rick Berrigan, MLA Todd Stone and MP Colin Mayes cut the ribbon.

I attended along with quite a few others from the TNRD. The thing that really impresses me about this new plant — funded through the federal-provincial infrastructure program with federal, provincial and local taxpayers contributing $2.27 million each — is that it uses membrane technology.

Those familiar with the Kamloops Centre for Water Quality will know about membrane filtration. It’s acknowledged as the best water-filtration technology there is because it’s so efficient at removing turbidity and pollutants from drinking water systems. It requires a comparatively small footprint and can easily be designed for expansion as population increases.

The system in the new Chase plant was designed by GE, which purchased Zenon a few years back. Zenon was a Canadian company that pioneered membrane water filtration, which forces water through membrane “noodles” to purify it.

One of its very few drawbacks has been cost. However, the good news is that the cost is gradually coming down.

The Chase plant took an unusually long time to accomplish — about nine years — due, I think, to some very stringent permitting requirements in connection with a two-pronged approach that uses both an intake from the South Thompson River and a groundwater backup.

So, former mayors Harry Danyluk and Ron Anderson were there Friday along with current mayor Berrigan, happy to see the official launch. Judging by the facility, located on Mill Road across from the Lions RV Park, it was worth the wait.

Membrane filtration does a top-notch job on water cursed by high turbidity, especially rivers, which are the sources for many water systems in the region including Electoral Area P.

Communities with very small populations still can’t afford membrane filtration. Chase has a population of 2,400 and local taxpayers will be paying for $2.27 million of the total cost. Take a community water system of only a few dozen homes and do the arithmetic — it’s just not financially feasible.

However, with the cost gradually coming down, and the technology constantly evolving for highly localized systems, the day may come when membrane filtration becomes realistic for very small communities. That would solve a whole lot of water problems and relieve rural residents from a lot of boil-water orders.

 

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