Storm water treatment stirs talk of liability

UVic Environmental Law Clinic finds Saanich could be on the hook

  • Dec. 23, 2011 11:00 a.m.

The way Saanich treats its storm water could ultimately result in some hefty penalties for the municipality, according to the University of Victoria’s environmental law clinic.

Legal director Calvin Sandborn says Saanich needs to adopt low-impact development techniques, such as installing permeable sidewalks, rain gardens, and increasing soil depth along sidewalks, so oil from cars doesn’t end up in fish-bearing creeks.

“The thing that kills fish streams is the way that we’ve handled storm water,” he said. “Instead of the water from rain going into the soil and down into groundwater, the rain sweeps all the pollutants on the landscapes into the pipes, and then pipes that water directly into the nearest fish stream.”

The environmental law clinic was approached by the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society to look at how Saanich could potentially be liable.

Sandborn says Saanich could be prosecuted under two sections of the federal Fisheries Act, for depositing deleterious substances into fish-bearing water, and for carrying on work that disrupts a fish habitat.

He hopes that law student Katrina Andres, who undertook the project, will have an opportunity to present the findings to Saanich’s environmental advisory committee next month.

kslavin@saanichnews.com