Mayor's Report - May 2011

Seymour–Capilano Filtration Project Update

Mayor Ralph Drew

The Seymour–Capilano Filtration Plant, the largest water filtration plant in Canada, has been treating all the water from the Seymour Reservoir since January 2010, and operated successfully throughout 2010. This state-of-the-art facility will also be filtering and treating Capilano source water beginning in 2013.

Filtration improves drinking water by removing turbidity and micro-organisms, and by reducing the amount of chlorine required to maintain water quality. In order to treat water from both north shore sources at one plant, water will be conveyed between Capilano and Seymour through underground twin tunnels. On April 15th, Metro Vancouver's tunnel boring work was completed on the Twin Tunnels that will convey Capilano source water to and from the new Seymour–Capilano Filtration Plant located in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR). The tunnels start near the water filtration plant and end at a new pumping station near the Capilano Reservoir. Both horizontal tunnels are 3.8 metres (12.5 feet) in diameter and about seven kilometres long. The cost of the entire project –– including the water filtration plant and the twin tunnels –– is about $800 million.

Seymour-Capilano Twin Tunnels

The Seymour–Capilano Filtration Plant can filter and treat a maximum of about 1.8 billion litres of water per day from the Seymour and Capilano sources. The clearwell –– a vast underground reservoir adjacent to and south of the plant –– can store 200 million litres of filtered and treated water for distribution.

The water treatment process involves the addition of small amounts of coagulant chemicals followed by slow agitation in large flocculation basins to allow the "dirt particles" to stick together. The water is then filtered through anthracite coal and fine sand. This treatment process has consistently removed iron, colour and organic carbon from Seymour source water, and has resulted in significant improvements in water quality.

The filtered water is disinfected with ultra-violet light, which provides primary disinfection. Lime and carbon dioxide are then added to raise the pH of the water to comply with water quality standards. Secondary disinfection with chlorine continues to be used to safeguard the drinking water as it travels through the distribution system. However, because of the treatment process, less chlorine needs to be added to the treated water as it enters the distribution system. In addition, re-chlorination stations throughout the distribution system are seldom required to "boost" chlorine levels as the chlorine demand of the filtered water has significantly dropped since the new filtration plant began operation.

Another important aspect of this project is energy recovery by the generation of electricity during the transfer of water between the Seymour and Capilano locations. The filtration plant is at a slightly higher elevation than the Capilano Reservoir, so a new pumping station at Capilano was needed to move raw water to the filtration plant. Treated water will flow downhill in the second tunnel, back to the Capilano site. An energy recovery facility near the south end of the Capilano Reservoir will recover the energy from the water in the treated water tunnel. The water will turn a generator and produce electricity, which will be used to offset about one-third of the average power required for the Capilano pumping station.

Upgraded treatment facilities are also scheduled to improve the quality of water from the Coquitlam Reservoir which supplies about one-third of the region's drinking water. The existing Coquitlam Lake water treatment plant, which was commissioned in 2000, uses ozone and chlorine for disinfection. In mid-2011 Metro Vancouver will begin construction work on a new $110 million ultraviolet light disinfection facility for the Coquitlam source water. The commissioning and start-up of the UV disinfection facility is projected for late 2013. In other words, major water treatment upgrades should be complete for all three of the region's water supplies by 2013.

The "bottom line" is that Belcarra residents can look forward to obtaining the world's best quality drinking water from the Seymour–Capilano Filtration Plant when Belcarra's new water distribution system comes into service next year.


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Village of Belcarra
4084 Bedwell Bay Road
Belcarra, BCCANADA
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