‘Not an easy decision’: Village of Cumberland to close popular sani-dump station

CHEK

The Village of Cumberland says it is closing its RV sani-dump station after seeing a significant increase in usage over the last two years as similar facilities in the Comox Valley closed.

It says the increase has put too much pressure on the natural wastewater treatment system that was never designed for the population growth seen in Cumberland or a busy sani-dump.

“Being the smallest community in the Valley with an out-of-compliance wastewater system, it’s just not responsible for us to continue to take the North Island’s RV waste,” said Cumberland mayor Vickey Brown.

“For the past two years, the Village has seen a significant increase in the use of this public facility, likely caused by the closure of other facilities in the region, leaving the Village facility as the only publicly accessible sani-dump station between Miracle Beach Provincial Park and Parksville,” the village said in a press release.

“In this time, testing at the Cumberland wastewater treatment plant has seen a substantial rise in both biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids which results in a negative effect of effluent quality.”

Rob Crisfield, the village’s operations manager, says treatment products and the concentration of septic waste from RV offloads are impacting the wastewater treatment process.

“While we would typically see exceedances in the summer months, they were not at the levels that we are now experiencing, and in fact, we are struggling to maintain effluent compliance in the winter months as well,” said Crisfield.

The Cumberland wastewater plant is being upgraded to meet the provincial and federal standards and the expected community growth.

Currently, the Cumberland wastewater system is out of compliance with the provincial requirements of its operating permit and is now under a consent order to complete the works.

The village has also received a federal enforcement warning letter from Environment and Climate Change Canada about significant fines if the village does not take the necessary corrective steps to comply with both the Fisheries Act and the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.

“It was not an easy decision, but the Village could be fined up to $1 million a day for being out of compliance and continuing to pollute, so we have to do everything in our power,” added Brown.

The village’s new wastewater treatment plant won’t be ready for another 18 months.

‘I don’t know where they’re going to go’

Mayor Brown says it could include facilities for a new sani-dump station but adds Cumberland should not be the only place in the Valley to offer one. She says a private business or other local government should step up.

“I have spoken to the Comox Valley Regional District staff, and they have been looking for a location, but it’s just really challenging to get the right spot that is hooked up to an appropriate wastewater system and is also able to take on the lineups of RVs that come in,” Brown said.

John Snyder hopes to start his camping season in a month or two and says he uses the Cumberland sani-dump about six times a year.

“I don’t know how many people were using that, but I don’t know where they’re going to go now, and it’s not a good situation,” he said.

“I’d have to think there’s going to be illegal dumping on the back roads somewhere.”

Fewer and fewer private campgrounds are offering their sani-dumps to non-guests.

Provincial Parks offer sani-dumps to all campers for a nominal fee.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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