Nanoose Bay mixed fire and water Saturday with the official openings of a $3.2-million fire hall and a $2-million water-treatment plant.
By a rough count of cake and hot dogs, more than 200 residents had by 1 p.m. toured the two facilities, right across the street from each other on Nanoose Road at Northwest Bay Road.
The bright, airy fire hall is built of wood to 50-year post-disaster standards, has a natural gas and heat pump system for heating and cooling, has heated floors in the vehicle bays for drying trucks and gear, and has a roof rainwater collection system.
Chief Penny thanked residents and firefighters for their patience during construction, noting that firefighters responded to 287 calls "without a home."
"The wait was worth it," he said. The water-treatment plant chlorinates the water and uses an electromedia system, the second in B.C., to remove high levels of iron and manganese, as well as other minerals.
It can be expanded to accommodate growth, perhaps about 5,000 people, as the Fairwinds subdivision builds out.
The water comes from four wells with supplements from the Englishman River as needed.
The plant is 95% automated, said Utilities Technician Kris Hagen, with humans needed for maintenance, adding bags of salt to create chlorine, and dumping the waste sludge, largely iron and manganese, to be taken to the Cedar landfill.
Residents noted they are still occasionally getting reddish-brown water out of their taps.
Chief Operator Dave Welz said the water mains have been flushed clean but the service lines to the homes and other buildings will have sediment in them for a while.
Some of these service lines are so caked with sediment that the water is running through a pencil-sized hole, he said.
Residents can buy a flusher and do their own for about $300, Welz said, or hire someone to do it.
Hagen advised against renting a flusher, since they are sometimes used in sewer and other pipes.
Michael Jessen and Larry Bic-cum, executives of the French Creek Residents' Association, as well as French Creek Director Stanhope and Qualicum Beach Engineering Director Bob Weir, toured the water plant.
Water in the Sandpiper subdivision of French Creek also suffers from iron and manganese.
Jessen and Biccum estimated that Sandpiper would need about a fifth of the capacity of the Nanoose plant. The FCRA is also exploring getting water from Qualicum Beach.
/ Randy Alexander (left), the RDN's General Manager of Regional and Community Utilities, tours the water plant with RDN Board Chair Joe Stanhope.; / Fire Chief Doug Penny tells the crowd the new hall is worth the hassle and the wait.; [Brian Wilford ] / RDN Utilities Technician Kris Hagen gives a public tour of the new water treatment plant. Behind him is Dave Welz, the RDN's Water Services Chief Operator, who was also giving tours. The plant can be expanded to accommodate population growth.; / Cutting the ribbon for the fire hall (from left): Training Officer Denis Holme, Chief Doug Penny, Regional District of Nanaimo Director George Holme, RDN Chair Joe Stanhope and Deputy Chief John Newall, who also posed for the ribbon-cutting for the old hall in 1973, when he was 16.;
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