Somebody thought it was going to be a new SkyTrain station and another passerby thought it could be a new swimming pool.
But the building on 200th Street and Lougheed Highway has a more vital function – to ensure people in the growing cities of Maple Ridge, Surrey and Langley have clean drinking water.
Metro Vancouver mayors officially opened the building, the Barnston-Maple Ridge Pump Station, on Wednesday, with toasts of clean water and tours of the $46-million project.
One set of pumps will send water from the Coquitlam reservoir eastward into Maple Ridge.
Another set of pumps will send water across the Fraser River to Surrey and Langley.
“We take it [water] all for granted, but yet we can’t. It’s a very important resource,” said Langley township Mayor Jack Froese. “This is a phenomenal project.”
Froese said Langley has recently extended Metro Vancouver water service, at a cost of $31 million, to Aldergrove and Gloucester Industrial Estates in the eastern part of Langley.
“And this pump station is vital to this project. We are about to turn the taps on very soon so this project is a vital piece to it.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said that great cities are based beside supplies of drinking water and cited ancient Rome’s water distribution system.
“Clean, potable water is the single most commodity in human health.”
The building took a total of eight years from design to completion and will be able to pump more than 350 million litres of water a day.
Six 1,000-horsepower pumps will move the water from Coquitlam reservoir and provide capacity for future growth.
“The volumes (that this can push are just staggering,” said Don Bradley, of Metro Vancouver.
Workers told politicians that the effect on the residential neighbourhood nearby was considered when building the facility. A concrete pad was used instead of pilings for the building’s foundation to minimize vibration.
Installing the pump motors below ground level will help reduce noise while the ‘green’ roof helps nearby neighbours by reducing the constant din of traffic from nearby Lougheed Highway.
The roof has more than 7,800 plants with more than 33 species. There are even snails munching away on the rooftop greenery, the mayors heard.
City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, chair of the Metro Vancouver utilities commission, said the pump station is one of the largest in the province and will ensure a reliable supply of drinking water for Maple Ridge, Surrey and Langley for decades.
In several years, the pump station may even be able to pay back some of the electricity it consumes to run the pumps.
Metro Vancouver engineer Goran Oljaca said the station has room to install two more pumps to expand capacity.
If those are installed, turbines could also be installed to tap the power of the moving water during high-flow times and create electricity.
“We’re still pursuing that.”
However, he noted, that there’s not enough capacity in the station to have all the water intakes and outflows power turbines.
“This is a significant addition to our water infrastructure,” said Greg Moore, chair of Metro Vancouver.