In 2014 the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) advised Bowen Island Municipality that the current system of chlorination of Cove Bay water is inadequate to address the issue of contamination.  The Cove Bay system is supplied water from an unprotected watershed and is required to upgrade the water treatment process. Using a multi stepped treatment process, the new water treatment plant will address issues required by VCH, as well as other enhancements to provide the community with high quality water.  It will:

  • Remove small particles of organic matter and minerals (turbidity), which is the current cause of discolouration and a contributor to the health risk
  • Remove microscopic viruses and parasites
  • Adjust the pH level of the water
  • Remove manganese, which is a naturally occurring element
  • And, as required today, kill any coliforms and E.coli

The Cove Bay water treatment plant will result in clean, clear and safe drinking water for over 600 properties connected to the Cove Bay Water System.

Project Updates

March 6, 2024

Both filter modules are currently experiencing problems. One module has one or more defective ceramic elements, and the other module appears to have become plugged and is not recovering as it should during the filter cleaning processes. An additional issue is the failure of one of two power supplies for the filtration equipment. The best approach to properly diagnose and reliably resolve the problems with the system is to return the main components of the filtration system to Purifics for a complete factory reset. The platform with the filtration equipment will be sent to Purifics this month. Purifics have indicated that the factory reset will take about four to six weeks. If all goes as planned the equipment will return to Bowen Island in May/June, 2024, in working condition and will be ready to be put into service. Purifics will have a senior representative on site for the start up.

January 17, 2024

Purifics recently delivered and installed new ceramic filter tubes to replace all of the ceramic tubes in the treatment system, many of which were defective.  Unfortunately, some of the new replacement ceramic tubes are also defective.  There is visible evidence of manufacturing defects, and visible failures in some of the new ceramics.  There may be enough functional ceramics to get one of the two filtration vessels into operation, and municipal staff are working towards this objective.  The plant will not be fully operational until new replacement ceramics are provided, which must be subject to much more rigorous quality assurance and quality control processes than the products that have been provided to date.  Purifics has indicated that new ceramics will be delivered in early February, along with the repaired DeWRS (dewatering system for the water treatment plant residuals), which is nearly complete.

November 15, 2023

Efforts to put the water treatment plant into operation with just one of the two filter modules were not successful due to failures of ceramic filter tubes occurring in both modules.

It has been determined that the problems with the ceramic tubes could be related to manufacturing defects and/or the water hammer that occurred earlier in the plant commissioning process that has since been corrected. The water hammer issue was a result of the overall plant design, and not the treatment technology provided.

Purifics has agreed to replace all the ceramic tubes under warranty. Enough replacement ceramic tubes to put one module into operation are expected to arrive on site in the first week of December, at which point they will be installed. The plant can then be put into service by the end of the year.

We are still awaiting confirmation on the timeframe for receipt of the remainder of the ceramic tubes needed to get the second module into operation.

September 20, 2023

BIM staff have continued rigorous testing of the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant as part of the commissioning process over the summer.

Staff encountered high turbidity readings and determined that these readings were not the result of instrumentation, but that both filter modules are not working as expected. It was determined that there are manufacturing defects with several of the ceramic tubes that make up the two filter modules. Purifics will be replacing all the ceramic tubes in both filter modules under warranty, and they expect that it will take two to three months to complete.

In the meantime, staff will continue to seek a solution that allows the water treatment plant to be put into service sooner, with one filter module only, without compromising the drinking water quality standard required by Vancouver Coastal Health and island residents.

June 16, 2023

Commissioning of the new Water Treatment Plant is underway. The filtration system and related components are all operating as intended.  We have identified an issue with the integrated dewatering system (DeWRS). The equipment has been returned to the supplier for repairs. This system is not integral to the treatment process itself and an approach has been worked out to put the plant into service without the DeWRS. Commissioning should be completed by the end of June, and the plant functional at that time. 

March 16, 2023

Following the installation of break head tank and pumps, the additional retrofit work identified by Purifics (filtration equipment vendor) has been completed and will need to be inspected and approved by the design engineers. Once the retrofit work has been approved, we can move into the final phase: Recommissioning.

Recommissioning provides an opportunity to check and confirm all equipment before and during the start-up of the WTP before the water is distributed.

The intent of re-commissioning is to

  • test the operation, control and capacity of the newly installed filtrate boost pumps system
  • confirm level control of the tank
  • confirm chlorination of the filtered water to the reservoir
  • confirm all components of filtration, rinse, flushing and discharge are operational
  • confirm performance of filtration run-time, water quality, alarms, back-up systems and other operations

Commissioning is considered complete when:

  • water passes all potability analysis and testing
  • WTP produces potable water and operates stably for five days
  • Cove Bay water supply is switched from Grafton Lake to treated water reservoir (requires approval from VCH)

If commissioning goes as planned, we’re expecting to be operational by April/May 2023.

January 17, 2023

The retrofit work identified in the Oct 17, 2022 update has been completed.  Additional retrofit requirements were subsequently identified by Purifics, and this work is underway.  Purifics will then complete on-site repairs and re-commission the treatment system.  Vancouver Coastal Health testing requirements and final inspection will then be completed prior to putting the plant into service.  If all goes as expected the system should be online by March 2023.

October 17, 2022

There are three areas of work that need to be completed before the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant can be put into service.

Contractors are making progress on retrofit mechanical work including the installation of a break head tank, pumps and piping and are expected to finish by the end of October.

BIM is expecting delivery of electrical components by the end of November, and the electrical installation is expected to be completed in December.

Once the mechanical and electrical work is complete, Purifics will perform on-site repairs to the broken filter, and then re-commission the system bringing it online in early 2023.

Vancouver Coastal Health will be on site for a final inspection of the plant and to review the results of water testing before drinking water is distributed to homes and businesses in Cove Bay Water System.

July 11, 2022

The Director of Engineering presented Council with a staff report seeking approval to proceed with engaging design consultants and contractor to undertake the necessary retrofit work that is needed to complete and commission the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant  into operation. 

Council authorized staff to contract Industra Construction for the necessary retrofit work that is needed to complete and commission the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant, at a cost of $2,436.85 for the design and $191,645.54 for construction. The Cove Bay water capital budget will be amended to accommodate these expenditures.

May 26, 2022

Agreement between the design engineers and treatment equipment supplier has not yet been achieved regarding some key details for the required retrofit to the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant.  BIM has engaged a third party consultant who is working with all of the parties involved to resolve the impasse.

April 14, 2022

Staff are continuing to work with the engineering consultants and equipment supplier to get the remaining issues with the Water Treatment Plant resolved.  The process design solution has been confirmed (adding a break head tank on the filter discharge), design details are currently being finalized, and quotes are being obtained for the required labour and materials.  The replacement for the failed immersion heater is expected to arrive soon.  The schedule for the equipment supplier to come to site and repair the failed filter module will be coordinated with the break head tank retrofit.  An estimated time frame for getting the plant into service will be provided as soon as possible.   

March 30, 2022

Unfortunately, the water treatment plant could not yet be put into operation due to repeated failures of key equipment from the supplier (ceramic filter tubes and immersion heater).  A new heater was ordered from a different supplier in January and should be available soon.  In the process of dealing with these ongoing problems,  an issue with the process design was discovered and staff together with the engineering consultants are working hard on resolving this as fast as possible. This is now the critical path item to getting the plant up and running. We understand how frustrating this situation is for the Cove Bay Water Users and will provide an updated timeline as soon as we have more detailed information. In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

November 4, 2021

In May, commissioning of the plant was paused due to equipment malfunctioning during testing. Later during the summer, several parts of the core filtration equipment had failed before the plant was fully up and running and needed to be shipped back to the manufacturer.  BIM is working hard to resolve the equipment problems and continue with the commissioning of the plant as soon as possible. Staff confirm that warranties on equipment and backup plans for water treatment are in place if needed.

August 20, 2021

Due to some equipment-related issues that were discovered during the commissioning process, the project management team are still working on resolving issues with the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant. 

We apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience while we ensure the brand new treatment plant is fully comissioned and meeting all specifications for operation.

June 1, 2021

Commissioning of the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant is still underway. While it was anticipated that distribution of water to the Cove Bay water sytem would begin on May 20-21, the activation date has been postponed until further notice. Updates will be posted here when they become available.

May 17, 2021

The Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant activation is postponed until approximately MAY 20-21 due to minor software issues involving preliminary programming of the system.

May 13, 2021

The Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant will be activated on Monday, May 17. Water service to Cove Bay users will change over to the new filtration treatment system, effective immediately.

No action is required on the part of properties/connections within the Cove Bay Water System. While everything is being done to ensure no disruption of service will occur, it is possible that as the new system comes online, there may be some performance adjustments required to address possible changes in pressure and other performance metrics. 

There are no anticipated impacts to properties which have a point of use or point of entry treatment system.  Properties with existing treatment systems may choose to continue to maintain those systems or discontinue use. 

A celebratory grand opening of the new treatment plant will be held later in the summer when it is known whether COVID-19 restrictions can be eased.

May 6, 2021

The detailed design for the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant was completed in 2019 followed by tendering and negotiation with the low bidder in early 2020. Construction of the treatment plant started in April 2020 and will continue until May 2021. Commissioning is scheduled for May 10 – 21, 2021. Final completion and handover to Bowen Island Municipality is anticipated by the end of May 2021.

March 25, 2020

The Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant project tender was awarded to Industra in February 2020, and preliminary construction work began on March 25, 2020. The site is located near Grafton Lake off of Grafton Road.

Initial construction activities include installation of sediment and erosion control measures and preliminary earthworks.

COVID-19 precautions: Industra, the contractor managing the project, will make arrangements for the contractor’s and sub-contractor’s staff to reside on the island for the duration of their involvement in the project. Industra will provide a safe work environment for all and has instructed its crews to follow the government protocols to maintain social distancing. Crews are also asked to limit any visitation to Bowen’s essential service stores to the minimum required.

Questions? Please contact Public Works at 604-947-4255.

EXTENDED: Calling local trades. Are you interested in working on the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant project?

Bowen Island Municipality has issued an Invitation to Tender for construction of the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant. If you are a sub-trade operating on Bowen Island, and are interested in working on the Water Treatment Plant project, you can submit your information to be included in a list of local sub-trades that will be provided to the successful bidder.

Please note, submitting your information for this list does not guarantee that you will be contracted to work on the project. The general contractor who is successful in the tendering bid will have full discretion over the hiring of sub-trades.

Please submit your information by Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 2:00 pm. 

  • E-mail Rachel Pryce-Jones, Public Works Coordinator at
  • Fax 604-947-0193 (Attn: Public Works)

November 19, 2019: Tendering documents issued

Invitation to Tender documents for the construction of the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant were posted on BC Bid and the Municipal website.

October 28, 2019: Alternative Approval Process Results

Council received the results of the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) for Bylaw 488, 2019. During the 32 day submission period, a total of seven Elector Response Forms were received. Elector approval was obtained through the AAP as fewer than 10% of eligible electors objected to the Bylaw. Council adopted the Bylaw, and approved staff to proceed with the process for borrowing $2,533,000 to build the Water Treatment Plant.

September 10, 2019

Bowen Island Municipality received approval of the Inspector of Municipalities for Bylaw 488, 2019.

At its regular meeting on September 9, 2019, Council approved the following for the Alternative Approval Process (AAP):

  • The Elector Response Form;
  • The estimated number of electors in the area defined for the AAP is 1,190;
  • The deadline for receiving Elector Response Forms is 4:30 PM on Monday, October 21, 2019.
  • Read the staff report

July 8, 2019

Council gave three readings to Loan Authorization Bylaw No.488, 2019. Adoption of the bylaw would allow long term borrowing of up to $2,533,000 to be used for the construction of the Water Treatment Plant. The bylaw will require elector approval by means of an Alternative Approval Process (AAP).

June 24, 2019

Council received an update on the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant. The Municipality will take ownership of the land when the subdivision – part of the Grafton Lake Lands development – is completed. The next step is to borrow the funds required for the Municipal portion of construction costs. Council directed staff to bring forward a loan authorization bylaw to the July 8th Council meeting, and to undertake an alternative approval process.

May 13, 2019

Council received a staff report from the Public Works Manager with an update on the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant project.

December 10, 2018

At a Committee of the Whole meeting held on December 10, 2018, the Manager of Public Works presented a project briefing and a PowerPoint Presentation providing an update on the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant including the history, work-to-date and planned next steps.

Background Information

The project was set in motion in 2017 when Bowen Island Municipality received a $3,890,367 grant from the joint Federal/Provincial Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Component. The grant represents a 2/3 share of the cost of the full-scale water treatment plant.

The pilot project was operational until the end of November 2017, during which time water samples treated with the ceramic ultra-filtration membrane process were analyzed, and municipal staff trained on the operation and maintenance of the system. The ceramic ultra-filtration membrane process – a technology developed in Canada – filters out bacteria, pathogens and organic matter in the water.  This means less chlorine is required to be added to the water in order to meet Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s Drinking Water Treatment Objective.

Report: Result of the Water Treatment Plan Pilot Study (PDF)

Frequently asked questions

A water treatment plant is being built to provide additional cleaning and disinfection of Cove Bay Water.  This added treatment will satisfy the recommendation of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) to use improved treatment methods for Cove Bay Water.

The heart of this treatment plant will be ceramic filters, providing “ultra-filtration”.  These filters will be supported by a number of other processes including coagulation and flocculation of particles ahead of the filters, and then ultra-violet (UV) disinfection and chlorination after the filters.  In this case chlorination is still required to ensure water remains disinfected throughout the systems distribution system.  However, the quantity of chlorine will be reduced and the stability of the chlorine residuals in the water will improve.  Finally, the treated water will enter a new storage tank prior to distribution to the users.   This tank provides temporary storage of treated water to balance the difference between the average and maximum water demands throughout the day.

The water is currently drawn from Grafton Lake and run through a screen that separates out dirt and debris. Chlorine is then added to provide disinfection.  Cove Bay water quality currently meets BC Drinking Water Protection Regulations, however the VCHA recommends incorporating a second method, such as filtration and/or UV disinfection to improve the water quality.

Regulation of drinking water quality is a provincial responsibility. Each province and territory has developed legislation and/or policies to protect the quality of drinking water from source to tap. All jurisdictions base their requirements on the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and enforce them through legislation, regulation or permitting.

In most Canadian communities, drinking water is treated, stored and delivered to homes and businesses by the local government. The Municipality manages the day-to-day operation, maintenance and monitoring of the drinking water treatment and distribution to ensure the water delivered to consumers meets the required drinking water quality standards. Water quality standards for all districts in British Columbia are established by the BC Drinking Water Protection Regulation. VCHA has the authority to enforce the regulation through treatment standards and by attaching conditions to water system operating permits.

A VCHA Inspection report in January 2014 observed several violations and required the Municipality to submit a compliance plan to satisfy progressive treatment expectations.

Work and studies to date

  • 1997: Dayton & Knight recommended that the Cove Bay Water System develop a plan involving filtration to enhance water treatment and to monitor water quality both in the watershed in Grafton Lake.
  • 1998: Dayton & Knight produced a Cove Bay Water System Drought Management Plan.
  • 2001: Dayton & Knight presented a water treatment plant predesign with recommendations.
  • 2002-2003: Grafton Lake Watershed Study.
  • 2005: Cove Bay Water System Universal Metering Project was introduced. It took about 5 years to install water meters for all houses and businesses in the district.
  • 2009: Dayton & Knight presented the Cove Bay Water System Long Range Plan Update. Recommendations were that the available storage in Grafton Lake should be increased to match the storage allowed in the water licences by raising the spillway 20 feet, and that the Cove Bay Water System should seek to install a filtration system to better treat and secure its water supply.
  • 2012: Opus Dayton Knight produced a Cove Bay Water Conservation Plan.
  • 2012-13: Creus contracted the replacement of Grafton Lake Dam.
  • 2012-13: Opus Dayton Knight produced an Affordability Study on Water Treatment Plan, recommending a Dissolved Air Flotation Plant.
  • 2015: Bowen Island Municipality applied for funding but did not receive any grants.
  • 2016: Dayton & Knight (Opus International) looked into alternative treatments.
  • 2016: Bowen Island Municipality applied for funding of a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration plant and the grant was approved.
  • 2017: a Pilot Treatment Test was completed with successful results.

The first step in the project was to set up a Pilot Treatment Test of the Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration technology. A mini treatment plant was housed in a container beside Grafton Lake.  This test operated throughout the summer, and the resulting treated water was analyzed to assess the finished quality.  The test was necessary to ensure the technology worked for Grafton Lake water. 

While there are several instances of this treatment technology in Canada and the United States, there are no similar plants located in British Columbia.  In 2017, Public Works Staff and the Engineering Consultant visited a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration plant in Vicksburg, Mississippi to research the technology and learn more about its operation.

The chosen technology is a Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration system manufactured in Canada. Water is pushed through a ceramic filter. Particles that cannot pass through the ceramic pores flow to a thickener and the wastes can be hauled away or drained into settling ponds.

Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration was selected based on Water Sampling from Dayton & Knight and the Municipality in 2010-11. This technology was chosen because it is approximately 25% cheaper than traditional Dissolved Air Flotation plants, and is expected to cost significantly less per year to operate.

  • It can accommodate facilities needing a small “footprint”.
  • It can help to remove microscopic parasites from treated water by physically removing their cells.
  • It is very effective at reducing colour. Coupled with filtration, the Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration process will provide extremely clear water that is suitable for disinfection by Ultraviolet light. The primary issue for Cove Bay is colour and organics which are generally too light to settle on their own.
  • The Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration process is very effective at removing disinfection by-product precursors.  These compounds react with chlorine to product Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) both regulated disinfection by-products. Once these substances have been removed, it is possible that less chlorine will be required for primary disinfection and the taste and odour of the finished water will be significantly improved.

The new Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration facility is intended to deliver clean, clear, high quality drinking water. Users should experience a significant improvement in taste and odour with this updated treatment process.

The estimated cost to build the plant is $7.6 million.

The Provincial and Federal Governments awarded a $3.8 million grant to Bowen Island Municipality to help pay for the water treatment plant. The Cove Bay Water System has about $1.1 million in reserves, and the remaining funds need to be borrowed from the Municipal Finance Authority.

Council adopted “Bowen Island Municipality Loan Authorization (Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant) Bylaw No.488, 2019”. The purpose of Bylaw 488 is to authorize the municipality to borrow up to $2,533,000, to be repaid over a period not exceeding 30 years, in order to finance the municipal portion of the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant project. 

Based on current users connected to the water system, user rates will increase by $213 per connected property. This project will also allow new users to connect to the system, and as these users join, the water system impact per connected property will decrease.

The main building will be a single floor building with some infrastructure located in below-ground tanks. The main floor will house two ceramic “trains” with an option for an additional train to be installed when needed as flows increase in the future as well as all ancillary equipment such as pumps, pipes and electrical equipment. The building will also contain a small office, lab and bathroom, chemical room as well as chlorine equipment and, if needed, waste de-watering equipment. Finished water will be pumped to an above-ground storage tank.

There will be a small lab and office for the operator to conduct required water quality testing to manage the treatment process. The only other amenity will be a washroom.

The design will allow for the future installation of additional Ceramic Membrane Ultrafiltration train treatment equipment, and is sited to allow for future expansion if required.