Water rates are set to increase in Abbotsford by 3.75 per cent. Pixabay photo                                Although the city has curtailed its water usage, staff are looking for a long-term way to increase water capacity as Abbotsford grows. Pixabay photo

Water rates are set to increase in Abbotsford by 3.75 per cent. Pixabay photo Although the city has curtailed its water usage, staff are looking for a long-term way to increase water capacity as Abbotsford grows. Pixabay photo

Abbotsford and Mission consider Fraser River water source

Project cheaper than Stave Lake but could still cost more than $50 million

Six years after Abbotsford residents rejected a $290 million plan to draw water from Stave Lake, city crews will spend the winter considering a long-term plan that Mayor Henry Braun says shouldn’t require public borrowing.

Instead of a distant source, wells should be enough to keep Abbotsford hydrated for years to come, a recent study for the city found.

The issue now is what type, and where. The study suggests that while groundwater wells could be a short-term solution, a collector well – also called a Ranney well – may be the best long-term option. Such a well would be dug in proximity to the Fraser River, with its bottom in an area of water-saturated rock, sand and gravel that helps filter and clean the water – although it would still likely be treated.

Several municipalities use such wells, including Prince George.

The study found using wells to tap into the region’s groundwater was also an option, but wouldn’t be likely to expand into the future, unlike the collector well option. Maintenance costs would also be higher.

Such a project would still cost tens of millions of dollars – the ground water option would cost up to $68.5 million, while a collector well project could cost up to $73.7 million.

But with the project not urgently needed and the city having added more than $60 million to its reserves over the last five years, Braun said the city shouldn’t need to borrow money to complete whatever project is chosen. The city would also look for funding assistance from senior levels of government, which had pledged around $65 million to the Stave Lake project that wasn’t built.

Despite a growing population, Abbotsford has been able to reduce its water usage since 2011, when officials warned a new water system would be needed by 2016. Braun said new improvements may take place incrementally, and may not begin for several years.

But, he said, “we need to be prepared and have a plan.”

* * * * *

Staff will now spend the winter looking for a suitable location and considering the feasibility of a collector well. That and other work to lay the ground for a new project is expected to cost around $1 million and take place this year.

When the last plan for a new water supply was drawn up in 2010, the Fraser River was considered an “acceptable water source” but rejected because of worries of public perception.

“Would you drink water from the Fraser?” Jim Gordon, the city’s then-general manager of engineering and regional utilities, said to The News in an interview at the time. Gordon said treating the water was technically possible, but said there were doubts the public wouldn’t be on board.

Other issues raised in the consultants report included the need for more pumping and potential of contamination from sewage or transportation problems upriver. However, the report did not include consideration of a collector well, and the public’s perception of such a facility.

Braun said there is a significant difference between a collector well and drawing water straight from the river. But Braun, who campaigned against the Stave Lake plan, said the city’s new search for a supply will feature more consultation this time.

“We will have a robust discussion with our community to actually find out what they think rather than guessing what they think.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

.
SHARE: Stunning vistas of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

City hall is asking for public input on its greenhouse gas reduction plans.
Maple Ridge wants citizen input on greenhouse gas targets

City hall to host an online webinar on Thursday

Pitt Meadows United Church has a new Expression Station, to create a record of people’s feelings during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to The News)
Closed by COVID-19, Pitt Meadows church offers Expression Station

Say what you need to say in this pandemic time, offers United Church

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

On Monday, March 1, 2021, Maple Ridge is hosting an information session on Choose to Move, a fitness program for people 65 and older. (Maple Ridge image)
Maple Ridge seniors invited to information session on free fitness program

Learn about the program for those 65 and older on Monday, March 1

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read