Frequently Asked Questions
March 4, 2021 Groundwater Webinar Questions: Follow up
Impact on property value of this type of project is often very hard to anticipate and quantify. How will this be addressed?
The CVRD will work with a consultant who specializes in working with property owners on statutory right of ways. The process for assessing value will be based on existing standard practices, and the final agreement will be negotiated with each individual property owner.
I heard Kris La Rose state active monitoring of the line is on going in other words, not finalize This is an item that should be completed before directional drilling is considered. Please detail what the plan for this monitoring is.
The leak detection plan will be developed as part of the final design of the forcemain. The CVRD is committed to ensuring that – in the extremely unlikely event of a leak - there is quick identification so that a repair can be made quickly, and would notify the public immediately in the event that a leak is confirmed
Monitoring the quality and quantity? Do we expect the same monitoring that was undertaken at the bore site at the terminus of Morland Rd.? That took almost a month to remediate!!!
The project involved three layers of accountability, with CVRD staff overseeing the general consultants, who oversaw the sub-consultant, who oversaw the drilling contractor – and multiple overlapping crews/staff for each. Due to several key summer holiday absences, the issue was not immediately picked up on and when it was picked up, the impact was initially under estimated. The lesson was learned, and the CVRD commits to applying this lesson for all future work to ensure that such impacts are anticipated and resolved immediately
Can and will a shutoff valve, of some form, be incorporated into the sewage conveyance system to present large quantities of sewage and chemicals from spreading into the Quadra Aquifer and allow repairs?
There is unfortunately no way to shut off this critical forcemain as there is no alternate pipe available to redirect ongoing sewage flows and no capacity for storage of wastewater. The CVRD will be designing and building the pipeline to the most stringent standard to ensure the pipe doesn’t pose a risk to groundwater in the area, and wastewater conveyance services for the core municipal areas.
In the event of a leak, a contaminated aquifer will affect wells outside of the so called swatch! What is your response? Have all those who rely on the aquifer been notified?
Through the development of the LWMP, including the assessment of the shortlist of options, there has been extensive outreach with the entire Comox Valley. We understand that everyone wants to see the proper environmental protection measures in place. Additional outreach has been undertaken with residents in the proposed route area specifically due to wells and expressed concerns.
...Please provide the capital and annual operating cost for the proposed route for the route considering mind and my neighbour’s properties. To this end, state the savings going under our properties
During the shortlist options consultation, the tunnel forcemain was identified as the lowest capital cost, estimated then at $58 million vs. $65-million for the trenched ‘cut and cover’ option in a high-level estimate. However, since then, further assessment has placed the cost estimate of building the tunnel forcemain at $73-million. Similar analysis and assessment of shortlisted option 1 indicates that option would now cost $83 M to deliver.
How will the preferential flow/redirection of groundwater, along the conveyance corridor be prevented?
The installation methodology for HDD pipelines results in a zone of higher density, lower permeability directly around the pipe. In contrast with cut and cover pipelines which bed the pipe is permeable sand, HDD pipes are embedded in the clay used to lubricate the pipe’s passage as it is drawn through the hill – with no potential for flow of water along the alignment.
What is the process to acquire right of ways along the proposed route?
Once a final conveyance route is confirmed, a representative for the CVRD will reach out to the owners of properties where a right-of-way is required. The CVRD will work with property owners to confirm value, impact and constraints for the area, in order to reach an agreement that will be registered on title once approved by all parties.
Have you researched other communities in North America, and or beyond, that have utilized this same form of forcemain tunnel construction in a rural area ?
We're in the midst of research into similar pipes installed elsewhere, and plan to have this ready for the next open house to Area B residents later this year.
Our focus has not just been on pipes installed by horizontal-directional drilling. We've also been keen to understand how common it is for sewer forcemains in general to be installed through areas where groundwater is used for drinking. Turns out this is in fact very common, with a long list of such installations in the Lower Mainland alone. Many communities draw their drinking water from aquifers that lie under their communities, meaning that both their gravity collection systems and forcemains run over or through the groundwater supplied to the community.
We look forward to sharing more in the months to come.
Nov. 5, 2020 Groundwater Webinar Questions: Follow-up
What is the accepted incidence rate of sewer exfiltration (ie: leak) in these sewer lines?
There is no accepted frequency of leaks. The existing sewer line is an outdated design and manufacture, and has had two small leaks over its lifespan that were identified and repaired immediately. Our detailed scan of the pipe in 2017 did not turn up even a single small leak. The new pipe will be built from a much more robust material, to a much higher seismic standard, and there will be leak detection in place to quickly identify a leak in the very unlikely event that one happened.
How is the pipe getting to the treatment plant from the entry pit (what route will it take?)
From the entry pit on Morland road, there will be a short stretch of cut and cover (overland) pipe installation north, and then a small, tunnelled section connecting to Brent Road and the entrance of the treatment plant
Will we be able to review groundwater info on the proposed tunnelled section of pipe from Morland thru Lazo Marsh to the plant?
Yes, data from groundwater work has been analyzed and the report is being finalized and will be made available to the public soon.
Why not feed all remaining areas on well water with fresh with city water service?
It is the decision of the Comox Valley Water System participants whether to extend water services outside of its current boundaries and the CVRD is not aware of any plans to do so. If a community is interested in connecting to the regional water service, residents should contact the regional district as a first step.
How long before the leak detection equipment requires replacement and what will that require? What happens 20-30 years from now if the sensors fail?
These details will become clearer as we progress into design of the conveyance system. The intention will be to have a leak detection system that is maintainable and replaceable to ensure it is operational over the entire life of the pipeline.
What about the leak at HMCS Quadra?
The leak on the HMCS Quadra forcemain happened shortly after being brought into service. It was traced to a faulty weld, where the pipe went through two 45 degree bends to go over the large diameter sewer forcemain and turn the corner below the Goose Spit stairs. The 8” HPDE bends found on the HMCS Quadra project are more like PVC joints – female couplers – which have in built wires to complete the melting of the HDPE. For large diameter pipes like the one that will be used for the proposed conveyance pipe, all mitres are done in the shop with full weld test reports and only butt weld fusions of straight sections are done on-site. These have much more advanced equipment to ensure welds are perfect before passing them. It’s important to note that the forcemain to be installed under Lazo Hill will run in a straight line with no mitered bends at all.
How noisy is the drilling process?
The drilling process will generate more noise than what was experienced by the neighborhood when the geotechnical investigations were underway in the summer of 2020. The drill rig itself will be larger, and there will be auxiliary pumps and motors running to push and filter the drilling fluid. Our goal will be have drilling operations take place during business hours.
We aren’t on RD sewer or water and so we’re being asked to assume all the risk for Courtenay and Comox. Why should we do that?
The foremain at Balmoral beach poses a high environmental risk. It is located on an exposed section of beach that is vulnerable to damage by waves, rocks and logs and poses and failure of this pipe would be irreversible and contamination of our beaches would impact all residents in the Comox Valley.
There are no solutions available that won’t have some impact on residents in the Town of Comox and Area B. However, the solution proposed is a low risk alternative to the possibility of a pipe failure that would have a devastating environmental impact for our community.
Why was the leak at the well head at the terminus at Morland Rd. not attended to promptly? It took almost a month for remedial work to be undertaken?
The project involved three layers of accountability, with CVRD staff overseeing the general consultants, who oversaw the sub-consultant, who oversaw the drilling contractor – and multiple overlapping crews/staff for each. Due to several key summer holiday absences, the issue was not immediately picked up on and when it was picked up, the impact was initially under estimated. The lesson was learned, and the CVRD commits to applying this lesson for all future work to ensure that such impacts are anticipated and resolved immediately.
Sept 30, 2020 Webinar Questions: Follow up
Would the CVRD considering contracting out the wastewater treatment to a private service provider at a fixed cost per m3? The plant to be placed in Courtenay with no pumping required
Construction of a treatment plant in Courtenay is not being considered because preliminary review indicates it to be prohibitively expensive to build - as well as inefficient, because treated wastewater would still require pumping to the existing outfall at Cape Lazo for discharge. The CVRD will continue to maximize the infrastructure at the existing treatment plant, which is operated successfully by our staff. There is no discussion about this approach being amended.
Question re: Alternative treatment options - have they been considered and can they still?
(Please note: Original question is too long to include here. Please contact us if you'd like to see full text)
Answer: Our review – guided by external experts in liquid waste management – was focused on all existing, viable technologies that currently meet best practices for the conveyance of liquid waste. This review created the long-list of options which has now been narrowed to the shortlist of three options presented here. The reality is though, even if it isn’t ‘too good to be true’, the cost and schedule risks inherent to being the first jurisdiction in the world to implement a new technology on this type of scale are just not tolerable, particularly given the urgency to replace the Willemar Bluffs section of forcemain.
Why was the original proposal to route the conveyance in the area around Beech Street rejected?
During consultation on the Comox No. 2 Pump Station project, key feedback from the community was that the conversation about rerouting the forcemain at Willemar Bluffs should be part of a broader planning process that looked at sewer management regionally. This led to the decision to launch the Liquid Waste Management Planning process that is currently underway, which will make a plan for the decades to come rather than to just address the most urgent need
Is there a greater or lesser potential for breach of the piping with the tunneling options? What would be the impact of a breach underground and how would repairs be conducted?
There is less potential for a breach with the tunneling option, as the depth provides additional protection to the infrastructure, and the pipe material and thickness for the tunneled section is required to be significantly more robust to be drawn through the hill using the horizontal directional drilling installation method. The system would be engineered to ensure it would operate successfully, and repairs – in the highly unlikely event they’re needed – can be completed, though details of what the best approach would be, would depend on the issue.
What happened to the March 2020 survey?
In March 2020, the project team launched public engagement on the conveyance shortlist including a survey posted here to the ConnectCVRD project page. However, the arrival of COVID-19 and resulting state of emergency led to the postponement of that consultation. This survey marks the restart of that stage of public engagement. Survey responses completed in March 2020 have been archived, however costs and construction scenarios have been updated significantly so we are encouraging residents to fill out a new survey.
Will groundwater or wells be impacted?
Over the summer, the CVRD conducted geotechnical and hydrogeological assessments in the areas of Lazo Road and Comox Hill. The results will provide information about ground conditions and groundwater levels in the area to help analyze if the tunelling options under consideration for the shortlist are viable. The data gathered will determine if ground conditions can support the directional drilling that would be required for construction. This includes ensuring that groundwater levels and groundwater quality would not be negatively impacted. Once data from this work is analyzed, reports will be made available to the public.
Are these costs final?
No, there are not final costs. The cost estimates included in this survey are at a class C level, which means the project is at a preliminary design phase. Cost estimates at this stage are based on current market conditions. When a preferred option is chosen, the project will enter the detailed design phase, at which point costs will be further refined.