The City of Abbotsford is getting funding help from the B.C. government to bolster its drinking water system against floods, wildfires and other climate-related disasters.
Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said Wednesday the $62-million in government funds will support a new well and water-treatment system to serve more than 165,000 people in Abbotsford, Mission and the Matsqui First Nation.
The vulnerability of the system was made clear in November 2021, when flooding from torrential rainfall forced 85 per cent of the water supply system off-line, he said.
“Eighty-five per cent of Abbotsford’s water system relies on one single supply. During that flooding, that source was compromised,” Cullen told reporters after speaking at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, an annual meeting of municipal leaders, in Whistler, B.C.
“For several weeks, the city worked hard to manage secondary water sources to minimize the risks to a cancer clinic, senior care homes, farms, schools and family homes.”
The project includes the installation of about 12 new wells, the construction of a water treatment plant and a pump station to tie into the existing regional system to bring the new water source to the community, the B.C. government said in a news release.
The water will be sourced just south of the Fraser River and supply the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water each day, Cullen said.
The total budget for the project is $84.4-million and the remainder of the funds will come from the Abbotsford Mission Water Sewer Commission, which operates the system.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said a more reliable and resilient water source is one of the community’s most critical needs.
The city came “perilously close” to running out of water during last November’s floods, he said, but it wasn’t the first time the problem has arisen.
A plan has been in the works to upgrade the system since it went down for eight weeks, three years ago, Braun said.
“This will allow our city to have consistent, reliable quality water in the years ahead,” he said.
The water will be drawn from the aquifer and no environmental concerns have been identified with the project, he added.
Upgrading the water system is one of a number of improvements the city is pursuing as part of a proposed flood mitigation plan that also includes dike upgrades and a new pump station.
Completion of the full $2.8-billion proposed project is at least four or five years away, Braun said.