- Maber Flats, in the District of Central Saanich, is the site of an historic wetland that has been drained and is used for agricuture. Aqua-Tex is leading a design team of professionals to design an agriculture drainage facility on the District's 11 ha portion of the site which will support agriculture by reducing the magnitude and duration of flooding on surrounding lands, while providing wetland habitat during the driest parts of the year.
Aqua-Tex recently completed a Watershed Protection Plan for the Comox Lake Watershed on Vancouver Island. This watershed supplies drinking water to approximately 40,000 people in the Comox-Courtenay region. Development of the plan has included consultation with a wide range of land-owners and managers since most of the vast watershed is privately owned. A copy of the plan can be found on the Comox Valley RD website:
- In 2002, we were asked to review the proper functioning condition of Hobbs Creek which flows through Mystic Vale. Our evaluation of the creek was that the majority of the system was Non-Functional. The watershed was highly valued by UVic and the community as both wildlife habitat and for its recreational opportunities. Since that time we have worked with UVic to conduct emergency remediation measures to address the most urgent erosion and stream bank degradation issues within the Mystic Vale portion of the watershed. We are presently designing a long-term restoration plan to arrest the erosion and slowly rebuild the stream and restore the ecology of Mystic Vale.
Aqua-Tex is the primary design consultant on the $7.0 M Mark Creek Flume project. The engineering team includes LaCas Consultants (hydrology), Exp Services (geotechnical) and Herold Engineering (structural). This project began in 2011 with the development of a two-phase design to take Mark Creek out of its 400-m long concrete channel and rebuild a naturalized creek through town that would withstand a 200-year flood event. The first phase was constructed in the summer of 2012 and the second phase was completed in January 2016.
Aqua-Tex and a team of engineering and regulatory specialists have been working with the City of Colwood for the past 3 years to develop a plan for advanced wastewater treatment. The plan would see sewage from Colwood and Langford treated using a membrane bioreactor (MBR) at a single plant in Colwood. Water would be treated to near-drinking water quality and suitable for reuse purposes including groundwater recharge, irrigation, toilet flushing and indirect stream augmentation. As aquatic ecologists who have worked on southern Vancouver Island for decades, we have witnessed first hand the loss of summer stream flows and the subsequent loss of habitat for salmon and the species that depend upon them. We know water to be a vital resource, even on our "wet" coast.
The treatment plant would be located adjacent to the existing sewer trunk and avoid costly conveyancing. Colwood owns a suitable site and private lands have also been offered. Biosolids would be removed in two phases: initial screening would remove the bulk of the solids at the beginning of the process and pelletize them so they could be used as energy feedstock. This would be followed by membrane treatment and advanced oxidation, and remaining solids from that process would be dewatered and either trucked to a regional facility or could be used to generate energy on site using a thermal destruction process (preferred option). Taken together, the wastewater treatment and biosolids management would remove all microplastics, pathogens, and personal care and pharmaceutical products to the highest degree possible with current technology.
Colwood and Langford sit on extensive sands and gravels. It is our team's professional opinion that these gravels are suitable for discharge of the highly treated water to ground. This would recharge the aquifer and indirectly recharge local streams. The first phase of an Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and is favourable, but the second (field) component must be completed before this disposal option can be presented to the Ministry of Environment for review. Ground disposal is standard practice throughout much of North America. If ground disposal is not possible for Colwood/Langford, then an ocean outfall could be used. The budget has allowance for an ocean outfall if it was required in place of ground disposal.
The cost of this option is considerably cheaper for Colwood and Langford residents than the centralized McLoughlin option. The annual per door cost for Colwood residents is approximately $40 and the cost to Langford residents is about $60 assuming 2/3 senior government funding. This includes annual operating costs. If full on-site biosolids management were added (final step) it would add approximately $10/house/year to the cost.
The initial treatment plant would accommodate the existing wastewater flows plus 25% for growth (total 10 ML/D), but the building would accommodate greater capacity. As the community grows, modest development cost charges would finance additional capacity in the plant. This fiscally responsible "pay-as-you-go" approach does not burden taxpayers with expenses that are not needed and benefits from declining costs as membrane technology continues to become cheaper. New users pay for new service, but existing users do not pay for expansion.
The design and costing has been peer reviewed by Ed Clerico, P.E. and Bob Schwartz, P.E. (ret'd) of Natural Systems Utilities in New Jersey. They agree that the chosen technologies are appropriate and that the costs are in-line with their experience and published values. NSU has designed dozens of wastewater treatment systems and currently operates 210 systems across 10 states.
The Core Area Wastewater Treatment Project Board (CAWTPB) has recommended $2 M to complete the Environmental Impact Statement and other technical studies before a final decision will be made on a Colwood plant.
The Colwood design team includes:
Patrick Lucey, R.P. Bio, C.Biol., MRSB, Aqua-Tex
Cori Barraclough, R.P. Bio., C.Biol., MRSB, PMP, Aqua-Tex
Bruce Jank, Ph.D., P.Eng., Canadian Clean Water Technologies
Les McDonald, R.P. Bio., Spirogyra Scientific Consulting
Michael Payne, P.Eng., Payne Engineering Geology
Ian Ralston, Eng. L., TRAX Developments Ltd.
Dragan Rokic, P.Eng. LEED AP, MCPM, PMP, GreatPacific Engineering Ltd.
Jason Clarke, P.Eng., GreatPacific Engineering Ltd.
Jon O'Riordan, Ph.D.
The assessment created a baseline for development planning and rezoning activities and as a means to meet the requirements of the Riparian Area Regulation (RAR). The assessment and related report included desktop and field site assessment components including the following:
- Review of mapping databases including but not limited to Data BC, CRD Community Atlas, CDC iMap to identify ecological features that were present on the subject property;
- Site visit to identify ecological site features (e.g., riparian-wetland corridors, streams, isolated wet areas, rocky knolls, forested areas, protected species, roads, etc.);
- Documentation required by the District of Highlands for rezoning and determining setbacks;
- Identification of off-site linkages with adjacent properties;
- Ground-truthed presence/absence of mapped ecological features;
- Provided photographic evidence and scaled figures/drawings of site and off-site notable features of concern for future development;
- The City of Kimberley, in the Purcell Mountains of BC, obtains its drinking water from Mark Creek and Matthew Creek, two forested headwater streams. These watersheds provide water to about 6,500 residents as well as a large population of visitors to the local ski and golf resorts. Both watersheds are the site of active timber harvesting and Mark Creek is again being explored for mineral deposits. Lower Mark Creek is home to the largest lead and zinc mine in the world, the Sullivan Mine, that closed in 2001. Aqua-Tex has advised the City on management of its drinking water watersheds since 1998 and has conducted routine monitoring and coordinated their integrated watershed management committee continuously since 2001.
The Bee Creek watershed is a small coastal watershed, about 435 hectares in size. It is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in the City of Colwood, which is approximately 10 km west of Victoria. Bee Creek itself is just over 1 km long. Most of its flow is derived from a groundwater seepage area at the base of a small escarpment. The goal was to restore this salmon-bearing habitat to its original state, including vegetation and a series of wetlands and ponds. Increasing the diversity and structure of the sites disturbed wetlands will provide enhanced ecological functions including nesting habitat, water quality improvements, and invertebrate food sources for migrating birds. Inland wetlands provide winter storm shelter and complementary fresh water foraging opportunities for birds. These forested wetlands reduce storm pulses into the lagoon and promote stronger base flows.
This project was a collaboration between Pacific Centre and its many volunteers, numerous funding agencies and community sponsors. Aqua-Tex provided the original concept and design and worked collaboratively with other professionals, particularly PT DeGreeff Landscape Planning and Joseph Brown Contracting in the final design and construction.
- Blenkinsop Creek is the major tributary to Swan Lake, an urban lake surrounded by a nature sanctuary in the middle of the Municipality of Saanich. Blenkinsop Creek has been severely channelized by agriculture and urban development throughout the watershed and is the receiving water for urban storm drainage. This first phase of this project restored approximately 700m of Upper Blenkinsop Creek by relocating and restructuring the channel, replanting native riparian vegetation and allowing the creek to access its natural floodplain. This project rejoined two fields that were previously divided by a ditch. This allowed Galey Bros. Farms to utilize a single irrigation system (instead of two separate systems) and to use one access road instead of two. This increased the area of land under cultivation by approximately 13%. By moving the creek alongside Lochside trail, were we able to take advantage of an existing vegetation buffer and create viewpoints from the trail. See the project photo gallery for photos of its construction and growth.
- Aqua-Tex developed the water quality sampling program for the City of Cranbrook's drinking water supply in 1994. This was followed by training of City staff and the installation of continuous monitoring equipment in 1996 and a meteorological station and snow pillow in 1999. Aqua-Tex worked with the City and the forest licensee, Galloway Lumber, to assess and manage the health of the watersheds from 1994 to 2009, including the formation of a Watershed Advisory Committee and annual watershed tours for staff and Council. This program has saved the City millions of dollars in deferred infrastructure costs by demonstrating very good water quality and avoiding the construction and operating costs of a filtration plant.
- Performance Targets for an Integrated Design Campus Plan (with Stone Environmental Inc, Farallon Consultants Ltd., Cobalt Engineering)
- Integrated Sustainability Guidelines for the West Valley Campus (with Stone Environmental Inc, Farallon Consultants Ltd., Cobalt Engineering, Terence Williams Architect).
A sustainable community demonstrates innovation and effectiveness in ecological, social/community, and financial planning. One objective of this development will be to demonstrate to the City, other levels of government, and the community that sites can be developed in a sustainable manner to benefit communities environmentally, socially and financially.
One of many unique features of Dockside Green is not its innovative stormwater management, but rather its fully integrated water management that treats water as a valuable resource in all its forms. Rainwater, stormwater, greywater and blackwater will all be reused on site in an attempt to mimic the natural hydrologic cycle as far as possible, given current technology and regulations.
As one of the core members of the original concept team, our role in this project is to: provide concepts and advice on integrated water management; provide design guidance on greenway construction and stormwater management; consult on shoreline restoration; and conduct Erosion and Sedimentation Control auditing. This project is on going.
- In 2003, we were retained by Island View Development Corp. to design and build stormwater detention ponds/wetlands to serve a new mixed development of single family homes, townhomes and a small commercial centre immediately opposite Olympic View Golf Course on Latoria Road. As part of this work, we consolidated three entrances into one and restored a portion of Latoria Creek. The development also includes trails that link the green and open spaces in the subdivision with the neighbouring school, forest and Latoria Creek. They provide a convenient and pleasant access route through the community and provide an opportunity to enjoy the natural environment.
- Aqua-Tex was retained by the Province of BC to advise on the 2008 provincial water policy "Living Water Smart". This plan formed the basis for many of the new policies implemented in the recently enacted Water Sustainability Act.
Southeast False Creek (SEFC) is a model sustainable community built on the last remaining large tract of undeveloped waterfront land near downtown Vancouver.
Historically, the Southeast False Creek site was used for industrial and commercial purposes. While maintaining heritage ties to the past, SEFC was planned as a model sustainable development based on environmental, social and economic principles where people live, work, play, and learn. SEFC is a mixed-use community, with a focus on residential housing for families. This complete community ensures goods and services within walking distance and housing that is linked by transit and in proximity to local jobs.
Our team contributed to the infrastructure and servicing design in 2005/06 mainly in the areas of stormwater management, shoreline restoration and ecology. In 2006/07 we were part of the Millennium/Merrick Architecture team, where our role was advising on rainwater capture and reuse, stormwater management and ecology. This project was completed in the summer of 2009 and is only the second project in the world to receive a LEED-ND (neighbourhood development) Platinum rating.
2016 update: We are pleased to say that the beavers approve!
- Aqua-Tex is proud to have been part of the design team for British Pacific Properties' newest project, the Rodgers Creek Neighbourhood. An Area Development Plan was drafted in close consultation with the District of West Vancouver and recently approved. It is based on watershed analysis of a large geographic area to determine appropriate land use, including park sites and open space in new subdivisions. This Plan provided comprehensive analysis of traffic patterns, environmental protection, land use and density within the framework set by the District Official Community Plan (OCP) policy. Aqua-Tex provided input on stream ecology and riparian management as well as stormwater management and green development principles.
- Rogers Farm is a 72-house, phased development on Christmas Hill. The developer was initially asked to provide on-site stormwater detention reservoirs which, given the geology of the site, would have required blasting and excavation of bedrock on an area of land equivalent to three full-sized lots. The stormwater from these detention ponds would have been conveyed by storm drains directly into a tributary of Gabo Creek. An overflow dry detention pond constructed in the early 1990's was determined to be non-functional. The cost of the on-site treatment was very expensive and the developer sought a cost-effective ecological alternative. A wetland at the base of Christmas Hill had previously been used as a fill dump and was no longer adding functionality to Gabo Creek. As part of the Rogers Farm subdivision construction, this wetland was restored and expanded. The water supply to support the wetland was obtained from the stormwater originating from the Rogers Farm subdivision. The overall cost of stormwater management program was estimated to be approximately one quarter of traditional on-site detention.
This site is an urban in-fill development on former agricultural land. This site was within the 200 year floodplain for Swan Creek and two developers had approached the municipality with traditional engineered solutions to stormwater management and flood control; however, this approach was not supported by the community. An innovative approach to stormwater management that would alleviate liability concerns for flooding and provide protection for Swan Creek was required.
By choosing to develop the property in conjunction with the restoration and stormwater treatment, the developer was able to obtain approvals and start construction in a very short period of time (63 days for all approvals). The property was subdivided to provide 31 single family homes, with 17% of the property dedicated to Saanich as parkland. This project has won several environmental awards.
- In 2003, we were retained to develop the stormwater management and low impact development concepts for the Valleyview subdivsion in the Langford. Valleyview incorporates many different strategies to maintain the water balance of the site and protect both Bilston Creek and terrestrial habitat. For example, houses are situated on naturally impervious, rocky areas so the net increase in imperviousness from rooftops is minimized. This allowed for natural drainage patterns to be maintained and enhanced thus maintaining habitat and minimizing the amount of hard piping. A system of ponds and swales carry runoff on the surface to permit infiltration back in to the groundwater and natural filtration of sediments before the water reaches Bilston Creek.
The former Glendale Lodge Hospital was redeveloped into the Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) as a space for high-technology research and development businesses. Aqua-Tex designed the stormwater management plan to deal with immediate redevelopment on the site as well as future expansion. Stormwater ponds and channels were created on two sides of the property in order to provide maximum detention and infiltration, and capture runoff from adjacent parking areas at Camosun College and Layritz Park. Walking trails were placed outside the floodplain and their location was determined through collaboration with the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific and Saanich Parks.
The cost savings generated by using an ecological approach to stormwater management instead of a traditional engineered approach have been documented at $500,000.