Water quality to improve with Shuswap system

Project to cost $1.2 million


Sewage system upgrades good news for Shuswap Lake water quality

Substantial work is complete on a North Shuswap infrastructure project that will improve lake water quality and set the stage for future development.

Dave Cunliffe, project manager for a sewer system under development on Indian band land at Scotch Creek, said by spring next year, the sewage lagoon and rapid infiltration system on Indian reserve at Scotch Creek will improve water quality at Shuswap Lake.

Lake studies have pointed to leakage from aged septic systems as the No. 1 threat to water quality.

The system will serve 80 cabins developed in the 1970s on reserve lands held by Little Shuswap Indian Band.

“By and large, it was dry wells or septic fields,” Cunliffe said of the current system. They were all subject to flooding. From a water quality perspective, this project is huge.”

The lagoons are located about 900 metres from the lake. The $1.2-million project is contracted to Kamloops-based Extreme Excavating.

Cunliffe said the lease contract between homeowners and the band ran out about four years ago and Health Canada demanded a septic system be installed as part of any new deal. As part of the deal, cabin owners are required to have a minimum of $80,000 worth of improvements, something that will help fund the new system.

“Most people are surpassing that.”

While the project is limited in scope today, Cunliffe, who is president of the North Shuswap Chamber of Commerce, hopes it will be the start of a central septic system for the entire Scotch Creek area.

Lee Creek resident and conservationist Jim Cooperman said “anything that will keep pollutants out” of the lake is positive move for the community.

The band lands were identified in an earlier environmental assessment by the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District as a potential location for a community-wide sewage system. Sewage infrastructure in the area is a combination of home septics, small community systems and lake outfalls.

“We’ve designed a site, and made it large enough to accommodate the whole community of Scotch Creek.”

Despite that availability and willingness by the band, Cunliffe said any project to hook up current and future development in the North Shuswap to a sewage system on Indian reserve lands faces several years of legal negotiations. It would also have to involve Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

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