Centralized treatment facility not the best option

The CRD Eastside Select Committee’s online survey showed 73 per cent support for a sub-regional sewage treatment plant in the Rock Bay area

The CRD Eastside Select Committee’s recent online survey based on some 860 votes suggested a 73 per cent approval rating for a sub-regional centralized sewage treatment plant in the Rock Bay area; 45 per cent of respondents were from Victoria, 19 per cent from Saanich and 17 per cent from Oak Bay.

This committee and CRD’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee seem to have taken these results literally and are now proposing centralized sewage treatment plant options in the Rock Bay area for further analysis.

Did those respondents and CRD directors really know or fully understand what they were voting for? Probably not, based on my closer review of the comments posted on the Ethelo website, the committee discussions and the consultant’s concept plan.

Two sites are considered for the treatment facilities: the Victoria Public Works Yard (to be relocated?) west of Bridge Street or the BC Hydro-Transport Canada parcels (still under remediation?) west of Government Street in the Burnside neighbourhood. Several large new pumping stations, over 13 km of pipelines and a new long deep outfall are included.

A pump station at Clover Point must lift the raw sewage over 20 metres of high ground to get to Rock Bay along the suggested route; another pump station at Rock Bay pumps the same volume plus more from the Westside after treatment back over the same high ground to Clover Point. Those two large-diameter twin pipes are to be constructed through established residential and commercial districts along busy streets crowded with underground utilities and known bedrock conditions.

During wet weather periods with high inflow and infiltration, sewage from the Westside receiving only primary treatment in the proposed plant is blended with sewage receiving secondary or perhaps tertiary treatment, before it is flushed out to sea through the new offshore outfall. The harmful substances in the primary effluent would re-contaminate the blended flow so the secondary/tertiary treatment processing is essentially wasted in terms of protecting the marine environment.

The Rock Bay area could be suitable for a small distributed tertiary treatment facility using sewage flows generated in the surrounding areas.  Reclaimed water and recovered heat from a smaller facility would better match potential demands in the surrounding industrial and commercial districts for revenue generation. The benefits of such a system would seem far superior to those centralized options currently envisaged.

But wait. Could this CRD decision possibly be a brilliant new strategy to finally, once and for all, confirm through detailed independent analysis the complete folly and final death-knell of a centralized treatment facility that encompasses multiple kilometres of new unnecessary pipelines, inefficient to-and-fro pumping stations, inadequate treatment of liquids and residual solids, limited resource recovery and wasteful water disposal to the sea?

Oscar Regier



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