Pemberton council is investigating the feasibility of developing a run of river power project on Pemberton Creek and acquiring drinking water from the creek.
At last week’s meeting, council approved a motion to conduct a feasibility study in the Pemberton Creek area to determine if the power project would negatively impact the ecosystem.
A request for proposals will be issued for consulting companies that have experience conducting this type of study.
Lori Pilon, chief administrator for the Village of Pemberton, said the project was first included in council’s strategic plan in June 2007 and is still in its infancy. The completed feasibility study will consider a number of factors, including environmental issues, esthetics and costing.
While Pilon said the VoP is taking a “hands on approach” in the preliminary stages of the run of river project, she said the VoP would likely partner with a developer if the decision is made to proceed.
“But this way, we would have a large management say,” said Pilon. “We could also manage the process and the impact.”
Pilon said the RFP process should take about a month.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he hopes that within a year, council will have a “basic understanding” of the viability of the project.
“At this stage, we don’t know whether it’s a feasible project or not,” said Sturdy.
“There’s environmental issues and that kind of thing, so these things need to be assessed before they can be either accepted or rejected. But if you don’t have the data, it’s pretty hard to make an informed decision.”
Council is also taking steps to obtain water rights for the Pemberton Creek, both for power purposes and as a potable water source. Even if the run of river project doesn’t move forward, Sturdy said council plans to secure surface water licenses for drinking water.
“This is a very small project, but we have been led to believe there is a possibility of combining a run of river project with a water supply,” Sturdy said.
The mayor added the proposed project could help with the area’s local water problems though a gravity-fed water supply.
After the feasibility study is completed, Sturdy said council will start making decisions about moving forward with the project, if it fits within the community’s priorities.
The Village of Pemberton budgeted $15,000 to conduct a feasibility study and get licenses for the run of river project. A total of $8,000 is budgeted for the study, with the remaining $7,000 going towards obtaining water licenses through the Ministry of Environment.