A master plan for expanding Colwood’s municipal sewer system is in the works.
As the City works with provincial officials to merge 56 local sewer service areas into six, the need for a long term plan became apparent.
“We’re responding to a request from the province wanting to know, if we merge the service areas, what we plan to do next,” City engineer Michael Baxter explained. “We would have needed to do this level of planning anyway, but this (request) accelerated the time line.”
In July Colwood requested proposals from consultants interested in preparing a sewer master plan. Council is expected review the options at its Aug. 29 meeting and select the firm to hire so planning can get underway.
Thousands of properties in Colwood still rely on septic fields. More than 50 kilometres of sewer line — or $40 million worth — are needed to complete Colwood’s sewer network. The City isn’t likely to have that kind of money anytime soon.
But the system is growing all the time. This year sewers were extended to service the Hatley Park Shopping Centre on Sooke Road.
A master plan will give order to what have been largely piecemeal expansions to ensure, for example, that pump stations are well placed and the appropriate size for future growth.
“The way we do it now, we wouldn’t know if we’ve made a mistake until years down the road,” Baxter said. “This (master plan) will give us a system to follow so we hopefully won’t need to go back and change things later.”
Baxter expects expanding sewers will be more desirable if the local service area mergers go ahead and the City is able to offer a standard fee structure across the municipality.
Currently, in some areas, homes across the street from each other pay substantially different amounts just because of what local area they are deemed a part of.
The City is also pushing to have sewage tax based on a parcel tax, rather than the more variable property tax, to give further stability to the fee structure.
“Everything is to create the conditions to eventually have sewage across the municipality,” Baxter said. “It’s all part of a package to reform the system to something more fair and desirable for residents.”