Uplands Combined Sewer Separation Affects All Residents – Final Open House November 30

November 27, 2015

Oak Bay News - November 27, 2015 - "Your View" Article

The recent heavy rain storms are a stark reminder of the responsibility that the District of Oak Bay and our citizens have under the provincial government’s Municipal Wastewater Regulation to separate the existing combined stormwater and sanitary sewer system in the Uplands neighbourhood. We are obliged to separate the two pipes because the combined flows during heavy rains overwhelm the two pump stations at Humber Road and Rutland Road, and raw sewage overflows in the shallow ocean waters.  When the Uplands neighbourhood was designed over a century ago, a network of easements was introduced along the sides and backs of properties where the single pipe infrastructure was placed maximizing the influence of the area’s topography to allow for a gravity system. A wider easement would be required to install a second pipe and the wider easement would have to be cleared of all vegetation and fences. The six options that are being examined exclude the use of easements in the solutions.

This month, more than 200 Oak Bay residents attended one or more of the four Open Houses to review the options and test assumptions directly with project engineers and District staff.  We are fortunate in our community to have many residents with expertise, and this opportunity to convene around this project has allowed for constructive dialogue that will help strengthen a recommendation to Council in the new year. Conversations to date have touched upon the merits and challenges of trench construction, the capital costs to Oak Bay taxpayers, the possibility of directional drilling, the opportunity for stormwater management solutions, and the desire to see a solution that takes a long-term view with maximum environmental and community benefit. 

This is a complex infrastructure initiative that requires careful and thoughtful consideration of project benefits and impacts.  It’s not easy, and we want to hear from you.  Council is grateful to all those who have given their time, expertise and passion to this important project to date, and the District is hosting one more Open House on Monday November 30th 5pm – 8pm at the Municipal Hall. 

If you are unable to attend in person, all of the information presented at the Open Houses is on the District’s website including a public opinion survey that can be downloaded or completed on line. The online survey is also available in hard copy at the Municipal Hall and will be at the Open House on Monday. All project surveys must be completed and handed in by December 4th.  While this project will take place in the Uplands over several years, the project capital costs on municipal property will affect everyone.   

Options currently being examined reflect a range of total project capital costs from $13.9M to $20.7M.  Options include:

  • a new deeper gravity sanitary sewer system. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;
  • a new deeper gravity system for storm water. The existing pipes would carry sanitary sewage;
  • a low pressure shallow sanitary sewer system. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;
  • shallow, gravity stormwater sewers pumped where necessary. The existing pipes would carry sanitary sewage;
  • shallow, gravity sanitary sewer system pumped where necessary. The existing pipes would carry stormwater;
  • shallow gravity sanitary sewer system with community sanitary pump systems where necessary. The existing pipes would carry stormwater.

Further engagement with the community will take place early in January followed by the finalization of the technical report.   A recommendation from District staff for a single option will be presented to Council early in the new year for consideration and decision.

Once an option has been selected, the project will proceed to detailed design in 2016. It is anticipated that this project will be phased in over several years based on the available funding. Compliance with the provincial regulation is mandatory for the District of Oak Bay as it is for other jurisdictions in the province.

For more information, please visit the District website to view the project information and complete the survey. Council thanks you for your time and attention on this important project. We want to hear from you.

Nils Jensen, Mayor, District of Oak Bay.