Black Press wraps up its five-part series examining the sewage treatment issue for the Capital Region in today’s Saanich News.
We hope that the series has helped increase our readers’ understanding of the complex issues surrounding sewage treatment and highlighted the region’s long history of grappling to find a solution.
There are no easy answers and it is unlikely the region’s politicians will find consensus among their constituents. Many remain convinced that further treatment isn’t needed, as the untreated sewage is quickly diluted and dispersed from the outfalls 60 metres beneath the surface of the Juan de Fuca Strait. And there are even scientists among those who question the need for treatment.
Others, meanwhile, say the political and environmental fallout have simply become too big to ignore. The federal government has mandated that high-risk communities such as Victoria must begin treating their wastewater to at least a secondary level by 2020. And the lack of sewage treatment has become a public relations nightmare for Greater Victoria. Today’s instalment looks at the new boycott by Washington state, which will no longer reimburse state employees for business travel to Victoria. Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey said the region’s sewage issue is a frequent topic of discussion when he’s out pitching conferences for the region. He says the negative publicity does have an impact on tourism to the area.
Finding consensus among the many differing viewpoints will be a challenge for the directors around the Capital Regional District board table.
What there does seem to be agreement on is the importance of cost, and the need to reduce the financial hit to residents.
Politicians on the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee have received the message loud and clear, cost is the main issue for local taxpayers. If those politicians are able to trim enough from the project’s current billion-dollar price tag, they might be able to finally settle the issue that has dogged the region for decades.