The District of Squamish (DOS) is looking to cash in on the community’s sewage.
For the first time in the municipality’s history, officials are creating a liquid waste management plan. The document will guide the district through the next 20 years of its sanitary and urban runoff needs, Urban Systems consultant Ehren Lee told council last month.
“We are looking at some of our urban activities and the impact they have,” he said, noting the study includes everything from the district’s stormwater system to whether household garburators should be banned. “The intent is to have broad, high-level objectives.”
In May, a municipal staff advisory committee — consisting of stakeholders such as the Ministry of Environment, Squamish River Watershed Society and the Vancouver Coastal Health — was created to help define the wastewater system’s current issues. More than 23 were documented in the Stage 1 report, with five highlighted as priorities — reducing outside water from entering the sewer and stormwater mains, estimating the impacts of population growth on the system, protecting fish habitat, exploring disinfection options for treated waste and researching potential uses for processed sewage sludge, known as biosolids.
Squamish organizations have shown an interest in reducing the trucking of biosolids to Whistler, Lee said. Currently, approximately 1.8 million kilograms of dewatered sludge a year is trucked to the resort municipality, where it is pasteurized for composting. The product is then trucked back to Squamish, cured, screened and sold to nurseries, landscapers and developers, he said, noting the committee was examining local use initiatives for the material.
Coun. Ron Sander questioned whether there are dollars to be obtained in a district-run sewage heat-exchange system.
With new technology, sewage has become a resource, he noted. In Victoria, Dockside Green, a 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use development, treats its own sewage, reusing the purified water in toilets, irrigation and the property’s creeks and ponds. In North Vancouver, the townhome complex Seven35 recovers heat from its sewage for household use.
The economics may not currently be present to include such technology in Squamish’s system, but that could change down the road, he said.
Squamish’s sanitary collection system consists of 105 mains and 7,000 service connections. The Downtown Sanitary Servicing Options Study estimates $7.9 million worth of work is required to accommodate future growth in southern Squamish. A 2011 Kerr Wood Leidal Associates study noted there are roughly 50 developed properties within municipal boundaries that are not connected to the community sewer system.
“The impacts and cost of this growth are pretty significant,” Lee said.
District officials will seek the public’s approval for its liquid waste management plan, Lee said. Staff plan to hold an open house this month. The time and place have not yet been determined.
“The intent is to have it all complete to adopt about the budget time,” he said.