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Regional District of North Okanagan community members attended an open house in January to learn more about the wastewater recovery system project. Photo Credit: Regional District of North Okanagan.

A wastewater recovery system for British Columbia’s North Okanagan district will soon prevent septic system contaminants from leaching into Swan Lake, now that a new $24.3-million grant has come through under the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan.

As one of the last developed areas of the Okanagan without a sewer system, leachates have been negatively affecting Swan Lake’s water quality and bird habitats, as well as limiting recreational and economic growth opportunities for the communities along the corridor.

The proposed location of the treatment plant is a 2.5-acre site purchased by the Township of Spallumcheen in partnership with an existing biosolids composting facility nearby.

“This project has huge benefits for the entire region, especially for sustaining local agriculture,” announced Township of Spallumcheen Mayor Christine Fraser, in a statement, noting that farmers will now have access to reclaimed water that contains nutrients for crop growth.

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Fraser added that, “the highly treated wastewater will provide much-needed relief for our farmers during the hot, dry summers.”

For the past four years, project partners have been conducting environmental and economic impact studies and obtaining community and financial support. With the grant in place ⁠— a combination of federal and provincial dollars ⁠— the remaining cost of the total $36.9 million project will see funding through regional borrowing ($5.2 million), a grant through the Okanagan Basin Water Board ($5.9 million) and reserve funding from the Township of Spallumcheen ($1.5 million).

While currently planned to service portions of Electoral Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen’s southeast industrial area and Okanagan Indian Band lands within the proposed service area, officials say the North Okanagan Wastewater Recovery System will have the ability to expand to meet future growth.

The next steps for the project include design, development, tendering and construction of the facility and sewer lines over the next two to three years, officials said.

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