A significant water project in Emerald will soon be underway, thanks in part to some hefty grants from the federal and provincial governments.
The Emerald Water System Disinfection Upgrade, as it's known, consists of two components, said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
"One is to install this UV water treatment plan so that the Emerald system would comply with the two-barrier standards for disinfectant, so it will significantly reduce the use of disinfection chemicals and, of course, the greenhouse gases that go along with that," Wilhelm-Morden said.
"The second part of the program will better protect the wells in Emerald Park by moving the well heads above ground, and it will extend the life of the Emerald Park well-pump building as well."
The federal government will provide $1,256,512, while the province will contribute $829,298.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) will pay the remaining $427,000 out of its reserves.
"The project design was started last year... the tender has already been published and we expect that the construction will start in late May," Wilhelm-Morden said.
"The grant programs require that the work must be completed by March 2018."
The need for the project was detailed by RMOW utilities manager Michael Day in his 2015-16 drinking water report, presented to council last June.
As of 2015, all three wells in the Emerald system were determined to be both Groundwater Under Direct Influence of surface water and Groundwater at Risk of Pathogens, Day said at the time.
"As a result of that, VCH requested that we maintain a much higher chlorine residual in Emerald through 2015, and on an ongoing basis, until we can implement Ultraviolet light disinfection," he said.
The RMOW has been doing rigorous measurements on the distribution system three times a week, with no reports of any infections.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) requires the project to be completed by 2017 for the system to remain operational.
The 2016-17 drinking water report will be presented to council this summer.
In total, there is about $3.7 million budgeted for water-related projects this year, including $226,200 for annual recurring projects like watermain repairs and upgrades to distribution infrastructure, $240,000 for a second well in Rainbow Park and $100,000 for the design of a new water booster station in Spring Creek to supply surplus water from Cheakamus Crossing and Function Junction into Whistler Village. (Construction of the project has another $2.3 million budgeted for it in 2018.)
Future projects include replacement of AC pipe in White Gold and replacing aging pipe in Emerald.
"The provision of clean water is a fundamental municipal service. It's as basic as it comes," Wilhelm-Morden said.
"Certainly water is on our radar, but we're also quite aware of the usage of water by the municipality, and we've been focusing our efforts for the last several years on reducing water consumption and better educating people on water use, and of course we will carry on with that this year as well."