Most residents of the upper North Thompson Valley use septic tanks for waste disposal. The only exceptions are those homes and businesses connected to the sewer system in Weyerhaeuser subdivision and area in Clearwater.
Until recently, sludge pumped from those septic tanks was disposed of into pits at the Clearwater and Barriere landfills, as well as at the Blue River transfer station.
As outlined in a media release from Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD), the regional district had a mandate to close the Clearwater and Barriere landfills and the Blue River transfer station in alignment with the TNRD’s regional solid waste management plan.
The facilities served Electoral Area “A” (Wells Gray Country), Area “B” (Thompson Headwaters) and Area “O” (Lower North Thompson), including the municipalities of Clearwater and Barriere.
As part of the closure of those facilities, the TNRD applied for grant funding for the design and construction of new septic facilities in Clearwater and Barriere, and in 2013 received approval of $1,400,800 in funding from the Federal Gas Tax general strategic priorities fund and/or innovations fund.
Construction began in late 2014.
The TNRD and the municipalities of Barriere and Clearwater reached an agreement where once the construction was complete the municipalities would take over the operation of the facilities — Clearwater to manage and operate the Clearwater facility and Barriere to do the same on a user pay basis.
The TNRD worked with the municipalities of Clearwater and Barriere to analyze historical load factors so as to best maximize limited grant funding. After it was determined that less than 20 per cent of loads were dumped during winter months, the regional district made the decision to build the Clearwater septic facility to operate on a seasonal basis.
TNRD and District of Clearwater have committed to an educational program to ensure residents are aware of closing periods and to allow for residents to be proactive in cleaning their septic tanks.
For emergent situations, District of Clearwater and TNRD are in discussions with the City of Kamloops and private operators to come up with solutions to dumping during winter months when necessary.
The Clearwater septic facility opened in April and accepted its first load on April 20.