The Saga of Waste Water Management (continued)

For ages, Victoria has sent untreated sewage into the Juan da Fuca Straits, with only rough sieving of solids. A good number of experts stated that there were no adverse effects to either humans or to marine life, as they safely disperse ion the Strait.

Then for reasons unknown, on July 26, 2006, Barry Penner, then BC Minister of the Environment, demanded that the Capital Regional District (CRD) submit to him, no later than June 30, 2007, a land-based sewage treatment treatment plan. He requested a progress report at the end of 2006 with options on the type, number and location of facilities, preliminary cost estimates, time schedule, consideration of new technologies, alternative financing and delivery options and private sector involvement.

This was the beginning of a long and protracted sage. We are now in 2011. Contradictory expert reports, CRD progress reports, public hearings, etc still conflict.

Nothing has started yet on the ground. The CRD kept on studying and reporting, at a cost of $ 24 million, examining Public-Private-Partnership (P3), optimization of construction and “smart growth”, , minimization of greenhouse gas emissions, etc. The CRD project as is now, would cost approximately $ 0.782 Billion, i.e., an average of some $ 550 additional property taxes on end in the Greater Victoria .

The process focused on secondary treatment, that would eliminate most of the dissolved pollutants, but not the most dangerous pharmaceutical and other chemical residues. The CRD is still looking for adequate and publicly acceptable sites. It is unlikely that the initial completion date of 2016 will be met.

A number of qualified experts still raise well grounded objections. Opposition, based on these objections. is led by groups such as the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment. (ARESST), chaired by John Bergbush, former mayor of Colwood and inspired by Dr. Shaun Peck. They rallied sections of the public against the project. On May 21, a public forum launched by the Esquimalt Residents Association was largely attended by opponents to the project.

Meanwhile the CRD keeps on refining project as if it was unchangeable. It is now endorsed as an environmental project and the CRD is seeking funds from the Federal and Provincial governments.

Are you willing and ready to pay an additional half a thousand of dollars in municipal taxes for a project that seems to be a little unclear, that does not achieve the wished purification of effluents and that may be not really necessary? Are there not more effective and less expensive options? Would there be some concrete ways to deflect the CRD from its course without creating havoc at administrative and political levels?

Let’s explore all this in our community.

If you want to know more about the issue, and gear yourself to a useful civic action, please visit our Camosun Community Association website and contact Yves Bajard, Board member CCA at Tel 250-598-4610.

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