Sewer - Capital and Operating
Watch the January 27, 2021 Committee of the Meeting on YouTube to learn more about how our sewer system operates and what we need to keep things running smoothly. The presentation slides are also available, but note that they should be viewed along with the presentation audio to ensure context and clarity.
What we do
The Wastewater Department oversees the operation of the Water Resource Center, Dusty Road pre-treatment plant and the entire sewer collection system including 9 pump stations. Wastewater flows to the plant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The plant effluent is tested in the WRC lab for the following: turbidity, solids content, organic matter content, ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorine, and aluminum content, as well as pH, and presence of fecal coliforms. Plant effluent samples are sent to a certified lab for analysis each month, and these results are reported to provincial and federal regulatory agencies.
Wastewater staff ensure that all pumps, valves, instruments, and sewer systems are operating correctly, and perform equipment maintenance and repairs daily. Operators analyze lab data, make treatment process changes as needed, troubleshoot issues, and respond to emergency situations.
Sewer Operating Fund
Sewer operations budget (expenses) increased in 2020 due to several factors, our sewer treatment plant has been in operation for five years and several aspects of the plant requires upgrade or refurbishment. Additionally, upgrades to other parts of the sewer system is also necessary, lift station major maintenance and upgrades. To cover these costs sewer user fees were increased significantly for 2020.
For 2020, the annual operating expenses were $2.46 million and revenues were $2.05 million for sewer.
- A 1% tax increase costs a typical household $16.20 and generates $96,000 in tax revenue.
- A 1% sewer user fee increase costs a typical household $4.76 and generates $15,000 in revenue.
- A 1% increase in parcel taxes costs a typical household $2.74 and generates $9,000 in tax revenue.
Last year sewer user fees for residential increased by $123 per resident unit, commercial user fees also increased at the same percentage as residence. Due to new construction connections and increases to the user fees, the District is budgeted an increase of $542,487 in sewer revenues for 2020. Additionally, septage receiving fees increased substantially due to increase in costs and planned future maintenance at the receiving area that is required over the next several years.
Many of the septic systems within the District of Sechelt are approaching their end of life and will need to be replaced in the next 5 to 25 years. Considering the potential for environmental hazards and cost of replacement for septic systems, the District’s long term liquid waste management plan includes expansion to include all of Sechelt.
We apply for as many grants as possible to fund sewer expansion, but this type of grant typically comes along every five years. A tax increase would allow the District to start building a sewer expansion reserve fund to speed up the process, which could better protect the environment and save property owners money if they are able to connect to sewer instead of building a new septic system.