COURTENAY, B.C- The heavy lifting for the Valley’s new water treatment plant is underway.

After a $62 million federal and provincial grant announcement, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a design-build contractor to deliver a new water treatment system for residents of the Comox Valley.

The $62 million grant will be supporting two projects, the first being the new water treatment plant.

Meant to be up and running in 2021, it includes a new lake intake, raw water pump station, raw water pipeline, treated water pipeline and a new water treatment plant with filtration and disinfection.

A second project, which will extend the CVRD water system south to service K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) lands of Royston, was announced in September.

Funding for the project will be provided by KFN and other potential users of the future system.

More than $34.3 million from the Government of Canada and $28.6 million from the Government of BC is coming through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan for the works.

The CVRD will contribute $54.9 million to the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project and the K’ómoks First Nation and other potential users will commit $7.4 million to the Water Service (South) Extension Project.

The southward extension is still being planned, while the treatment plant is considered “shovel-ready” according to the CVRD.

A contract with a single team for both the design and construction of the water treatment system will be established. According to the district, in addition to minimizing risks for the CVRD, design-build reduces the delivery schedule by overlapping the design and construction phases of the project.

“Our team has been hard at work since receiving public support for the project in March and a lot has been accomplished, including land acquisitions, permitting approvals and the signing of the regional water mutual benefit agreement with the K’ómoks First Nation,” said Bob Wells, chair of the CVRD board of directors, in a news release.

“This was all undertaken in anticipation of secured funding, so that we would be ready to move forward to construction as quickly as possible for this high-priority project.”

Land clearing and other construction work is expected to begin in late 2019 while detailed design is finalized. Infrastructure construction will get underway in 2020 with project completion expected in May 2021.

According to the district’s news release, the request for proposals for a design-build contractor on the project has been sent out to three pre-qualified teams.

Charlie Gore, the manager of Capital Projects for the CVRD, stated that companies involved on the three teams included Aecon and Stantec, Graham Construction and Jacobs, and Acciona Canada.

The district will be in touch with the companies throughout the design proves, and submissions will be due in May. A contract with the successful proponent is expected to be signed in July.

“They have to meet that timeline,” said Gore.

“It’s no ifs or buts. There may be extensions we provide, due to extenuating circumstances, but they don’t get any extensions just because they haven’t finished their design.”

They will also have to stay within the budget established for the work, though Gore hoped the district would be able to get good value and an under-budget proposal.

Gore also indicated that the southward extension project was expected to cost $14.8 million, with the latest grant from other levels of government covering half of that cost.

“Now it’s up to K’ómoks First Nation and other potential users in the south to come up with the rest of that money. Once we have a fully funded project for the Water Service South Extension, we will go ahead with that.”

Gore also touched on why the recent grant announcement didn’t mention the southward extension, stating that the province saw the two projects as combined within the grant.

“They don’t necessarily differentiate between the two projects,” said Gore.

“So when they say the $7.4 million will be coming from KFN and other partners, for the project, they see the water treatment project and the water extension south project as a combined infrastructure that the Comox Valley Regional District will be building.”

Another expected benefit from the construction in Bevan is the provision of amenities along the Puntledge River trail system. Gore was excited about the idea, and expected it to be a “big opportunity”.

“The public will be invited to provide their input into the look and feel of the new treatment plant and pump station at a design workshop early in 2019,” read a news release on the matter.

“Residents will also be asked what amenities they might like available at the site of the treatment plant, to facilitate use of the nearby recreational trails along the Puntledge River. Feedback received will be provided to the proponents to incorporate into their final proposals.”

The district will provide the dates and times for public engagement via their website. Additional information on the water treatment plant project can be found on their site as well.