TFN looks to Metro Vancouver for sewer help
Tsawwassen First Nation is looking for a long-term solution to its sewage needs, but it likely won't be coming from the Corporation of Delta.
According to a report provided by Delta's director of engineering, Steven Lan, although the current system can handle predicted population increases in Ladner and Tsawwassen, it will not be able to accommodate TFN.
Lan said engineering looked at overall sewage capacity, as well as growth capacity, and then looked at what would be left in reserve.
"Based on our Official Community Plans, although we can accommodate all of that, in terms of future growth there's only very limited capacity remaining and there's really no reserve capacity remaining for Tsawwassen First Nation long-term sewage needs."
That's a problem that's had TFN looking for a solution for quite some time now.
TFN currently has a small sewage-treatment plant, but that system will not be able to meet the growth plans of the community, specifically two massive shopping developments, a new residential community, and the possibility of an industrial park.
TFN's chief administrative officer, Doug Raines, says their current sewer needs will meet the growth of the proposed 42-lot subdivision by the Aquilini Development Group, but a bigger and longer term solution will need to be found for the extensive developments TFN has proposed.
About two years ago BC Ferries put in a sewer line from the ferry terminal along Hwy. 17 to connect to Delta's sewer system near 56th Ave. that runs north to the Annacis Island Sewage Treatment Plant.
TFN entered into negotiations in 2011 with BC Ferries, Delta and Metro Vancouver to hook into that system. Delta's offer at the time was for a five-year interim agreement, after which Metro Vancouver would have to work with TFN on their future sewer needs.
But at an in-camera meeting in Metro Vancouver last July the plan was rejected by the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District. Although the exact reasons were not provided, Chief Kim Baird suggested in a letter written in April and addressed to Greg Moore, chair of the GVS&DD, "we understand their concerns pertained mainly to financing...and the lack of a permanent sewer solution."
That decision led TFN to request membership in the GVS&DD by the provincial government, which was granted. It was a similar move to the one TFN took in 2009 to join the Greater Vancouver Water District.
Raines says the interim agreement with Delta is still on the table, but they're waiting for word from Metro Vancouver, while exploring other engineering options.
"We certainly know that technically we'd need to twin a line between TFN lands and 56th, if that's the way we proceed. Then it's a determination as to what has to be done from 56th on Hwy. 17 through the interconnected sewer system that runs to Annacis [Island]."
Delta currently owns a sewer main that runs from south of the Annacis Island treatment plant to a boundary with TFN lands. In April, TFN proposed putting Delta's sewer infrastructure along that highway under control of the GVS&DD and compensate the municipality for the asset.
But Lan's report indicates that plan would not work.
The current Official Community Plan flow is estimated at 1,150 liters per second based on Delta's design criteria. The peak capacity of the existing system has been estimated at approximately 1,200 liters per second.
Due to several breaks and sewage leaks that have occurred over a number of years, the sewage system between Tsawwassen and Ladner has been provided with parallel forcemains to provide some level of redundancy in the event of a failure.
Lan's report, however, notes the implications of a forcemain break affecting populations the size of Ladner and Tsawwassen are "significant."
South Delta's projected growth allows the Corporation to maintain a modest reserve capacity. Ladner and Tsawwassen's population increases over the next 30 years are expected to be just 3,691 and 3,134 people, respectively.
But whether those projections will remain accurate with TFN's growth plans remain to be seen. Although the sewer issue remains unresolved, TFN's CEO, Chris Hartman, said that won't delay groundbreaking on the new mall project.
A spokesman for Metro Vancouver cited "confidential discussions involving a range of parties" and declined to comment.