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Cultus Lake Park to receive almost $10M for new wastewater treatment plant

‘Innovative’ infrastructure project to improve Cultus Lake water quality by removing excess nutrients
Dignitaries at the $10 million Cultus Lake infrastructure announcement Dec. 1, 2022 included: FVRD electoral area H director Taryn Dixon, Cultus Lake Stewardship rep Christina Toth, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon, FVRD chair Jason Lum, Cultus Lake Park Board chair Kirk Dzaman. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Protecting Cultus Lake has been “a long time” coming.

Cultus Lake Park is getting a new wastewater treatment plant.

“We are here this morning to celebrate an infrastructure announcement that will make a real difference for people in our community,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent, on behalf of federal Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan who could not attend.

“I’m please to share that the province and federal government have committed nearly $10 million to the construction of the new Cultus Lake North Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

The innovative facility “will protect the water quality of Cultus Lake” by removing excess nutrients such as nitrogen, nitrate and phosphorus.

“Just take a look around. It’s no surprise why people come to British Columbia, and it’s no surprise that they choose Cultus Lake, our Lake, as a place to live, work and play.

“This lake is a jewel of the province, and I’m glad to see all orders of government working together to protect it,” Paddon added.

RELATED: Stewards look to protecting Cultus

The federal government is investing $5.45 million in the project through the ‘green infrastructure’ stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The provincial government is contributing $4.54 million through the environmental quality program, a sub-stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, while the Fraser Valley Regional District is providing $3.63 million.

Taryn Dixon, FVRD electoral area H director, praised MLA Paddon’s role in helping to secure funding and for her advocacy on the Cultus Lake infrastructure project. She thanked FVRD staff for their dedication, planning and trouble-shooting for the project.

“I am confident as the project unfolds that we will have a state-of-the-art facility,” Dixon said.

The new plant will replace the existing end-stage sewer plant. It will help protect the aquatic environment, endangered fish, which include the Cultus Lake pygmy sculpin and Cultus Lake sockeye, as it will also protect the lake water quality well into the future.

“The innovative part of the Class A-Plus system is that the technology involved will remove up to 95 per cent of the nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the effluent,” said Christina Toth, of the Fraser Basin Council, who spoke on behalf of the Cultus Lake Stewardship Society chair Dave Clyne.

A few years ago, the Fraser Basin Council obtained funding for a study by an SFU student, under the supervision of the researchers at the Department of Fisheries & Oceans lab, here at Cultus Lake.

“The study confirmed too much nitrogen and phosphorus was going into the lake. The main sources are from overland run-off, from the air, and from the treated septic wastewater effluent.

“This excess of nutrients is detrimental to the lake because it leads to toxic algae blooms, poor fish habitats, and to a generally degraded aquatic ecosystem.

“The Regional District and the Cultus Lake community embraced the science and chose the most effective wastewater treatment system,” Toth said.

Funding will support the construction of a new facility to upgrade collection and provide secondary treatment of wastewater, manage sediment, and remove nutrients like nitrogen to control algae growth and protect aquatic habitats.

Related infrastructure installations will include piping and rapid infiltration basins, and will address odour control. Soowahlie First Nation will benefit from the installation of a pressurized sewer pipe.

Once installed, the facility will improve water quality for the local community, increase wastewater capacity, and protect residents’ health and the lake’s ecosystem for years to come. The federal/provincial grant is about $9.9 million, combined.

Cultus Lake Park Board chief administrative officer Joe Lamb sent the following statement by email:

“Cultus Lake Park Board and staff are pleased and excited about the today’s announcement of a $10 million dollar grant related to the construction of the new Cultus Lake North sewer treatment facility.”

He said all proceedings with respect to the legalities regarding the sewer treatment facility have now been resolved.

The park board is looking forward to working with partners, the Fraser Valley Regional District Board, and staff to complete “this extremely important project” over the next few months.

“We are confident that with the original assent vote for the borrowing of $6.5 million and the grant announcement made today that we will be able to complete this project and take great steps to preserving lake health over the long term,” Lamb added.

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Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon announcing almost $10 million for Cultus Lake Park waste water treatment plant. ( Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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