Fire departments to be notified of aquatic centre sprinkler corrosion

On the last day of 2020, the sprinkler system in the Sechelt Aquatic Center leaked. The workers found microbiological growth in the pipes that corroded at least part of the system and affected the flow of water.

On the last day of 2020, the sprinkler system in the Sechelt Aquatic Center leaked.

The workers found microbiological growth in the pipes that corroded at least part of the system and affected the flow of water. The extent of the corrosion is unknown but could force the entire system to be replaced more than a decade ahead of schedule.

Since the discovery, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has decided to send a report of the premature corrosion of the water center’s sprinkler system to fire departments on the Sunshine Coast. While the cause of the corrosion is unknown, the report states that water chemistry may be a factor and the water source should be investigated as the cause of the problem. Some board members shared their concerns as other SCRD and Sunshine Coast facilities share the same water source.

“Based on our discovery and the condition of the Sechelt Aquatic Center, employees will consider whether and how sprinkler systems in other SCRD facilities should be checked,” said Allen van Velzen, Facility Services Coordinator, speaking to the Planning and Community Development Committee on Jan. February meeting.

van Velzen informed the board that the premature failure of the sprinkler system had occurred despite annual maintenance and controls. He added that the SCRD fire protection plans were recently updated. The updates to the Fire Protection Act include five-year inspections of the interior of sprinkler systems that should resolve similar problems sooner. While van Velzen said this type of failure in sprinkler systems is not unprecedented, he said it was unexpected at the Sechelt Aquatic Center.

The replacement of the system at the water center was originally planned for 2037, but the current system only lasted 15 years of its expected 30-year lifespan.

While an investigation into the extent of corrosion is still required, the report to SCRD notes that a sprinkler system designer said that “it is very likely that the corrosion is present throughout the system and that a full replacement is required”.

The total estimated cost of examining and fully replacing the system at the Sechelt Aquatic Center could be $ 180,700, excluding GST. If the cause of the microbiological growth is discovered, a full replacement may not be required.

A complete replacement of the sprinkler system would take eight weeks – twice the usual annual shutdown. The SCRD staff recommended that the budget proposal be included in round 2 of the 2021 budget so that work can be started quickly and coincide with the annual accounts, probably in May or June.

Several options for financing the work were presented to the board of directors. The SCRD could take out a short-term loan in agreement with the municipal tax authorities. This would introduce an additional property tax by 2026, starting at 41 cents in 2021 and 44 cents in 2022 per $ 100,000 home valuation. The second option would use the operating reserves. While there would be a remainder of $ 15,000 in the use of the reserves for this year, there are insufficient funds left for urgent items, according to the staff’s report. Another option would be to change the capital renewal subsidy plan as a critical item or to include the full amount in the property tax 2021. This would increase property tax by $ 3.43 per $ 100,000 of property valuation.

The financing model for the repair of the sprinkler system of the Sechelt Aquatic Center will be put up for discussion in Round 2 of the 2021 budget, when the Board of Directors decides on the option to be pursued.

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