The letter in the April 20 Saanich News ‘Former minister clarifies position on sewage’ is a commendable exposé by Mr. Anderson when considering the time, cost forecasts, expenditure and efforts expended to resolve the issue.
A number of aspects appear to have been overlooked, however, over and above screened sewage discharged to the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the core area communities as this is not the only contributing factor to water pollution. Coastal waters receive a variety of land-based water pollutants ranging from effluent, petroleum wastes, pesticides, to excess sediments. Marine waters also receive wastes directly from offshore activities, such as ocean-based dumping and offshore operations.
Canadians generate an impressive three trillion liters of sewage annually. Municipal sewage is the largest source of pollution discharged to surface water bodies in Canada, and Canada is flushing some 200 billion liters of raw sewage into its waterways every year.
There is 36 billion liters of untreated effluent from outfalls in Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster each year and millions of liters of raw sewage discharged annually by the Greater Victoria region in addition to the 82 MLD of screened sewage from the seven core area municipalities.
Mr. Anderson and others question the need for sewage treatment of the core area on the basis that discharging screened sewage in the Strait of Juan de Fuca has no, or negligible, impact on the environment. The federal, provincial and local governments believe otherwise.
One contentious aspect of the debate in Victoria is cost for treatment and processing sewage waste. From available information, forecast estimates for sewage treatment in the core area range in the area of $1-$1.5 billion. Other communities generally treat sewage and then truck the sludge to the Hartland Landfill for disposal.
A number of options are under consideration to deal with the situation, all at considerable cost to taxpayers. It has also been recommended that the CRD also consider simple fluidized sand bed technology to process sewage and other bio-waste at a profit to the communities. This technology has been shown to handle a wide variety of waste streams, including dry-sorted garbage to thickened and wet sludge and other biowastes. It has shown to be a cost-effective waste treatment system with byproduct value – electricity, potable water and fly-ash used in agriculture or concrete. It would be wise for the Capital Regional District to consider all options in this regard as they seem to be doing while struggling with costs.