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Wastewater Recovery Project

Historically, septic systems have been used to treat residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater in the Swan Lake Corridor. Research has shown that many of these systems are now leaching contaminants into Swan Lake, thereby impacting surface and groundwater quality, bird habitat, and recreational use of the corridor.

Additionally, economic development in RDNO Areas B and C, the Township of Spallumcheen's south-east industrial area, and OKIB IR4 are all compromised by the corridor's lack of sewer. Ideal for commercial and light industrial uses, the corridor requires a wastewater treatment facility and reclaimed water storage sites to optimize business growth and the jobs it brings. Wastewater recovery and reuse would also benefit agriculture in the area, as growers require new sources of irrigation water during the hot summer months.

In 2015, to further explore these challenges and opportunities, RDNO, Spallumcheen, and OKIB formalized a collaborative, cost-sharing Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the following objectives and guiding principles.


  • Preserve Swan Lake and surrounding wetlands; and
  • Improve opportunities for economic development.

Guiding Principals

  • Wastewater is a resource.
  • Collaboration, and the sharing of human and financial resources, achieves better results.
  • Respect for each partner's mandates and decision-making processes strengthens the partnership.
  • Open and transparent communication among the parties and with the public optimizes project support and success.

The 2018 MOU outlines factors such as administrative functions, ownership of sewer works, decision-making authority, operations and systems management, allocation of plant capacity, capital costs recovery, and wastewater recovery regulations.


As documented in the 2015 MOU, collaborative governance of the project:

  • Increases leverage when applying for provincial and/or federal funding;
  • Facilitates the development of consistent and integrated plans, policies, and programs;
  • Ensures an integrated approach to public outreach and engagement; and
  • Sets the stage for future collaborations.

Governance structures, functions, and jurisdictional roles and responsibilities are outlined in the 2018 MOU.


Phase 1, undertaken between 2015 and early 2018, explored options for providing wastewater treatment in the Swan Lake corridor. The resulting 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study, prepared by Urban Systems, supported the development of wastewater recovery, treatment, and reuse.

Phase 2 is underway and will refine technical aspects of the project and examine funding options and governance structures as outlined in the 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study. The study was used to guide development of the funding application submitted August 29, 2018 for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Technical Considerations

To date, project partners have collaborated to:

  • Assess existing environmental conditions (i.e., water quality analyses conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 confirmed that leachates from septic systems are impacting lake health)
  • Identify existing and potential commercial and industrial uses in the plan area (i.e., 2016 RDNO Employment Lands Report)
  • Identify wastewater treatment, reuse and disposal strategies and options (i.e., 2016 Phase 1 Feasibility Study and 2018 Phase 2 Feasibility Study).

Research outcomes, in all cases, support construction of a wastewater recovery facility and associated reclaimed water storage facilities to address environmental challenges, enhance economic growth, and provide much-needed irrigation water to area farmers.


  • Financial commitments were shared by project partners for Phase 1 scoping and Phase 2 technical analyses.
  • A $10,000 Infrastructure Planning Grant was received from Province of BC in 2017 to assist with Phase 2 costs.
  • Project partners submitted a grant application for $24.3 million to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program on August 29, 2018.

It is important to note that the project will only proceed if the senior government grant is approved and if the RDNO's long-term borrowing petition (for $5.2 million) and the Township of Spallumcheen's AAP (for $5.9 million) succeed.

For more information about the project: