Proper planning a priority for sewage treatment project

Let’s hope the recent costly project-management errors are not repeated

As Capital Regional District citizens we’ve inadequately expressed displeasure with our elected leaders for their failure to resolve a perceived sewage disposal problem.

Recently, and in conjunction with his early termination in the now cancelled CRD’s sewage treatment plan, it was confirmed project manager Albert Sweetman will receive a half-million dollar early termination payment. Sweetnam may by some be deemed a failed major-project manager. That would be an unjustified assessment of a proven professional who has a demonstrated history in mining and nuclear projects.

It is evident that the CRD sewage disposal concern conflates two closely related but distinct issues. One: the aim for comprehensive treatment of all waste water to the tertiary stage, and two: the (normally) preceding confirmation of a science-based requirement for such complete treatment.

With the termination of Sweetnam and the majority of his planning staff, now is the logical time to figuratively wipe the slate clean and this time start with a verification of need.

There is science-based evidence that the receipt of screened sewage offshore in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a uniquely non-contaminating system. This reality is extensively documented by professionally qualified citizens at Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria. It’s noted that Dr. Shaun Peck has verified that all water (including the Fraser) that flows into the Georgia/Puget basin drive the residual current that carries Victoria’s dissolved effluent out to the open Pacific.

Let’s realize we collectively face a double threat. First, we could all again be embarrassed with the Lazarus-like return of Mr. Floatie, the excrement-costumed activist who champions greater waste-water treatment. More importantly, even with the science-based confirmation of our currently effective system, cancellation by the CRD of its aspirational goal for more expensive sewage treatment may not happen.

If, in their collective wisdom, our elected representatives decide our long-term (political) interests lie in upping our sewage-treatment game, let’s hope the recent costly project-management errors are not repeated. With Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps recently noting that “project staff were hired before the project was 100 per cent sewn up,” there is a glimmer of light on the project planning horizon.

Let’s hope Mayor Helps is referring to the realization she and her elected CRD colleagues now understand the need to define (along a critical path) task sequencing and approval levels for a major project. The CRD’s own professional engineers certainly have the training and background (and the project-management software) needed to initiate and track early-stage CRD sewage project planning initiatives.

If the political decision is to opt for more sewage treatment, let’s hope our CRD elected leaders follow Mayor Helps in her determination to not proceed (with expensive early-stage commitments) until we have a project that’s 100 per cent solid.

Ron Johnson

Saanich