The Victoria Sewage Treatment Alliance (VSTA) has been advocating for publicly owned and affordable sewage treatment for the CRD for 11 years. VSTA is a large coalition of environmental groups, CUPE, scientists, fisherman and citizens. We are disappointed the CRD is back at square one, suggesting a new two-plant scheme, one at McLoughlin Point and one at Clover Point. The CRD is under the threat of a Washington state-led tourism boycott. Both Tourism Victoria and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce have stressed the urgency for Victoria to get sewage treatment to avoid the devastating effects a boycott would have on our $2 billion industry. Over the past 11 years, we have learned that the CRD’s plan for a single sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point is the best possible outcome for CRD taxpayers and the environment.
There are many reasons to support a single treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. To begin, the McLoughlin Point plan provides near tertiary treatment with its inclusion of advanced oxidation. Advanced oxidation is a proven technology which has a high removal rate of many toxins, including a wide range of pharmaceuticals. This plan also includes the highest resource recovery of any plan proposed by the CRD. The recovery of biogas, phosphorus and dried biosolids would be used to offset operational costs.
The McLoughlin Point plan is approximately $264 million cheaper than the CRD’s two-plant scheme. Operational costs for two plants are nearly double than for a single plant. Consequently, taxpayers will be paying hundreds of dollars more a year, indefinitely, for two plants instead of one. Moreover, there will be high annual costs from trucking biosolids from two plants through neighbourhoods; whereas, the McLoughlin Point plan pipes biosolids underground in a six-inch diameter pipe to Hartland. The McLoughlin Point plan will be publicly owned and operated, which will also reduce our long-term costs.
McLoughlin Point is also a better site for a treatment plant. Clover Point is one of the region’s most popular waterfront parks, whereas public are not allowed access to McLoughlin Point. Unlike Clover Point, which is directly across from a neighbourhood, McLoughlin Point is 500 metres away from the nearest neighbourhood. McLoughlin Point is also a contaminated former oil tank farm. Furthermore, there would be less disruption to Victoria and Esquimalt residents with the McLoughlin Point plan, since construction materials would be barged to McLoughlin Point.
Additionally, engineers have verified McLoughlin Point plan’s costs and treatment technology to be realistic. Some people believe decentralized treatment would be far cheaper. If this was true, cities like North Vancouver, which is building a new secondary sewage treatment plant, would opt for decentralized. The original design for a single treatment plant for McLoughlin Point has capacity until 2045, compared to 2030 for the two plant scheme, when both plans require an additional plant to be built on the West Shore. Contrary to other plans, the McLoughlin Point plan has passed all regulatory and environmental tests, obtained provincial approval, and construction could begin in 30 days, permitted under the existing zoning.
We are sympathetic towards residents who feel their quality of life may be negatively affected by construction of a treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. We support the Township of Esquimalt and its residents to receive appropriate mitigation. We hope the CRD will soon conclude a single treatment plant at McLoughlin Point is the most affordable option for taxpayers.