On October 6, 2020, Huu-ay-aht First Nations (Huu-ay-aht), Bamfield Marine Science Centre (BMSC), McElhanney, and Industra representatives, gathered for a ground breaking ceremony on the BMSC site of where the new Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is going to be built.
The project began in 2010 when Huu-ay-aht conducted feasibility studies that identified multiple options on where the project would be constructed. BMSC was also looking at options to replace their sewage system. As a result, BMSC and Huu-ay-aht agreed to partner up and build the facility on BMSC lands.
On April 26, 2018, Huu-ay-aht and BMSC signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to build the new WWTP. The total project budget is $8 million, with Indigenous Services Canada committing to $3.6 million. After seeking assistance from different levels of government and having no success funding the remaining investment, Huu-ay-aht decided this project was important enough to invest the final $4.4 million needed to complete the project.
“With this upgrade, Upper Anacla residents and Huu-ay-aht operations are able to do away with septic fields and our businesses in Bamfield will also benefit,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis. “By partnering with Bamfield Marine Science Centre we are better able to balance residential development and economic drivers, paving the way to joint development and a healthier community.”
Worked into the agreement is a construction advisory board to oversee the construction of the project. The four members who sit on the board are Huu-ay-aht staff Stephen Rayner and Torrance Gilmour, and BMSC members Lee Weber and Chuck Spooner.
The project design and construction are being managed by McElhanney and Huu-ay-aht staff Torrance Gilmour.
Although building the facility in Anacla was an option, Huu-ay-aht decided it should be located on a site that would benefit both parties – connecting BMSC, the Bamfield Community School, and Upper Anacla to the system.
“Huu-ay-aht First Nations and BMSC have worked closely together on the collaborative development of this modern wastewater treatment system,” said Sean Rogers, Director of BMSC. “In addition to providing BMSC with a means to manage our wastewater safely, the project supports the vision of promoting the health and economic development of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations while also promoting the environmental health and stewardship of the local marine environment. It is an exciting project, and we are so pleased to see it underway”.
The design of the new plant is a Moving Bed Biological Reactor that will allow 400 to 1,100 people. Using this type of system also allows for expansion beyond 1,100.
The system is a newer sewage treatment process that uses a screen plant, high surface area media in a series of aerobic reactor tanks, solid separation, and UV disinfection. Solids from the screen plant and concentrated sludge will periodically be trucked to Port Alberni for disposal.
The plant is also equipped with an odour abatement system. The resulting effluent from this type of system is extremely clean. To ensure the design parameters are met, there is a first discharge testing program, as well as a two-year outflow monitoring program.
The 150 m outflow from BMSC’s existing plant will be extended by 350m to service the new plant. This will effectively get the clean effluent discharged out into Trevor’s Channel rather than the mouth of Bamfield Inlet.
All noticeable infrastructure will be contained within the planned fenced off plant area on BMSC land. Construction is estimated to take 15 months and be completed by end of 2021.