Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation

World Water Day takes place on March 22nd, and serves as a valuable reminder of the importance of clean, accessible water and effective sanitation systems in our global and local ecosystems. To take part in World Water Day, we connected with valued icona partner Aplin Martin to learn more about sewage and septic systems and how to incorporate them in our infrastructure to build healthy, sustainable communities.  

Continue reading below to learn more about World Water Day and its significance for us here at icona.  

What is World Water Day?  

A United Nations initiative, World Water Day emphasizes the need to accelerate change to solve the global water and sanitation crisis.  

In 2015, all United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a shared blueprint that paves the way for a globally prosperous future. At the core of the Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which act as a collective call for action from both developed and underdeveloped countries. The 17 SDGs are ambitious – they include initiatives such as the eradication of poverty, global access to education, gender equality, and global sustainability and climate action. All SDG initiatives were set out in 2015, with the intention to achieve all goals by 2030, creating a stronger earth for today and tomorrow.  

Sustainable Development Goal #6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. As with all SDG’s, the United Nations continues to monitor the progress made with this initiative, and as 2030 rapidly approaches, it has become clear that we are very far from achieving this goal on a global scale.  

Overall, to meet drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene targets by 2030, the United Nations estimates that the pace of progress will need to increase 4x. Global awareness initiatives such as World Water Day promote awareness of these goals and encourage everyone to do their part to initiate change.  

Read more about World Water Day and the United Nations sustainable development goals here:

Septic & Sewage: Understanding your systems  

To understand more about water and sanitation systems in British Columbia, we connected with John Robbie, a consultant at Aplin and Martin. A valued icona partner, Aplin and Martin is an engineering, architecture, planning and surveying firm dedicated to creating ecologically sustainable solutions across British Columbia.  

John Robbie is an engineer and project manager who specializes in water and waste systems. With a 15 year industry tenure, he has effectively implemented many water and sanitation projects throughout the province.

John explained the importance of implementing effective water and waste disposal systems across our communities, and clarified the difference between the two forms of water sanitation systems in BC: septic systems and municipal sewage systems.

A septic system is an onsite sewage treatment and dispersal system that treats wastewater generated onsite with a septic tank, and then discharges the septic effluent to subsurface for ground dispersal.  

A municipal sewage system collects sanitary flows from a large sanitary catchment area to a centralized wastewater treatment and disposal system.  

The largest risk associated with septic systems is potential contaminants leaking into underlaid soil and groundwater. These systems typically use a septic tank to pretreat the water before discharging the effluent into subsurface, and there is often minimum treatment applied to the effluent. In addition, lack of system maintenance, aging systems, and poor design and construction can increase the likelihood of faulty systems. Ineffective systems can pollute the surrounding environment, impacting the quality of water, the surrounding ecosystem, and the drinkability of local wells.  

In contrast, municipal disposal and wastewater systems are typically regulated to mitigate and control environmental impacts, often making it the preferred system for homeowners. Municipal systems typically discharge to a centralized treatment and disposal system operated and maintained by professionals engaged by local authorities. This allows the quality of the water discharged to be higher than that of a septic system, and ensures the system will remain stable. However, the cost of connecting communities to already-existing municipal systems can be significant.  

Water Connectivity at Anmore South  

A valued partner, Aplin and Martin is collaborating with icona on their upcoming Anmore South development. Located north-west of Port Moody, Anmore South includes 151 acres of undeveloped land in the Village of Anmore. icona has committed to re-envisioning the community to include diverse housing, commercial spaces, and public amenities; ultimately bolstering community vibrancy and environmental and economic sustainability.  

To create a dynamic and healthy community, part of this engagement will involve connecting Anmore South directly to Metro Vancouver water service (operated under GVWD) and Metro Vancouver’s regional sewerage service (operated under the GVS&DD). Connecting to the regional sewage system will ensure service adequacy, reduce impacts on groundwater aquifer, and reduce the cost to construct an onsite wastewater treatment facility. It will also reduce risk of contamination to groundwater and surrounding soils. To help make this transition possible icona has committed to funding the Anmore South water and sewage connection, ensuring that future residents won’t bear the cost of this capital investment.  

In order to connect Anmore South to the regional sewerage system, the Anmore South lands will need to be included within Metro Vancouver’s Urban Containment Boundary (or “UCB”), a specific land use designation established in Metro 2050Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy.  

Inclusion in the Urban Containment Boundary will permit the expansion of Metro Vancouver’s regional sewer area boundaries to include the Anmore South lands and will facilitate a connection to the regional system.

The Village of Anmore will also need to create a local sewer area for the Anmore South lands that will establish boundaries around the properties within the municipality that will be directly connected to and benefit from Metro Vancouver’s regional sewerage system. Establishing a local service area will enable the Village to apply the costs of the regional system to only those properties that are connected to the regional system.

By creating the opportunity for Anmore South to connect to the regional sewer service, as well as facilitate a direct connection to the regional water service, icona is helping to build a sustainable, healthy community for years to come.  

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