March 31, 2011



ARESST: Quote from news below: The federal government has already promised to pay one-third of the capital region's planned $782-million sewage treatment project. This implies that spending on the sewage plant will detract from federal support for other infrastructure projects.

Jack Knox
Times Colonist
March 31, 2011

Notes from the first week of the election:

- Green party leader Elizabeth May was excluded from the televised leaders' debate. If I wanted to watch a bunch of grey-haired guys perform alone on stage, I would buy Supertramp tickets.

- News photographers were cranky after the Stephen Harper circus descended on the home of a Saanich family this week. Prevented from leaving the backyard in the name of security, the camera crowd was left only with the carefully staged photo ops chosen by the Conservatives. Meanwhile, the neighbours were milling around out front, taking pictures of Harper actually being human when he emerged from the house.

- Harper could have broken the electoral traffic jam in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca this week.

Instead, he left Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza stuck in the Colwood Crawl with the other candidates.

Asked about federal funding for an overpass at McKenzie Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway -a big part of DeSouza's campaign -Harper danced away.

"Generally I leave those kind of questions to local candidates," was all Harper would say when the TC's Cindy Harnett asked him about money for the overpass and sewage treatment.

He didn't say no, but it would have been dead easy to say yes. The federal government has already promised to pay one-third of the capital region's planned $782-million sewage treatment project.

But no such commitment has been made for a McKenzie interchange. In fact, the window for approving such projects under Ottawa's $62-billion infrastructure program has already closed.

The interchange has been a focus for DeSouza, who in 2008 fell just 68 votes shy of knocking off popular Liberal incumbent Keith Martin, who isn't running this time. A week ago today, just before the opposition parties ganged up to bring down the government, DeSouza and his supporters could be found beside the highway, waving to West Shore commuters inching their way to work.

The interchange isn't really a federal matter -highways are a provincial responsibility -but it is one of those concrete (excuse the pun) issues that hits voters where they live.

It's a good vote-getter for DeSouza. The Liberals have long talked about the same integrated solution -transit, light rail, rejigging the E&N, bike lanes -that has been talked and talked and talked about for years. Likewise, New Democrat candidate Randall Garrison has said an interchange would only push the bottleneck down the highway to the Tillicum Road intersection. The Greens want us to fly to work on magic carpets woven from hemp. That separates DeSouza from the pack; he's been the only one promising to throw drowning drivers a life ring, right now.

Yet had the Conservatives really wanted to fund a McKenzie overpass, they could have done so already.

Instead, they chose to contribute $10.5 million to the Pat Bay Highway's $24-million McTavish interchange, which will open in April.

The McTavish work was funded not because it was atop the priority list, but because it ticked the right boxes. Not only was it in an area represented by two cabinet ministers -Gary Lunn federally and Murray Coell provincially -but it qualified for economic stimulus funds by being a "shovel-ready" project with money from a third party, in this case $3 million from the Victoria Airport Authority.

The McKenzie proposal had none of those advantages. It remains on the back burner, where it has been ever since B.C.'s New Democrat government shelved it in the mid-1990s, when it was dropped from the $1-billion Vancouver Island Highway Project.

The B.C. Highways Ministry says only that the interchange option is part of a broader B.C. Transit study that's supposed to wrap up this year. The CRD is also trying to determine its priorities for transportation corridors.

Which leaves everyone in the same place as before, going nowhere fast.



Chris has pointed out that the keynote speaker at the 6 April UVic water symposium is Dr. Mark Servos, who was one of the consultants on the 2006 SETAC report. 

"Water cycle, climate and biogeochemical processes"

University of Victoria - Cadboro Commons: Haro Room (2nd floor)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 9am 3:30pm

- lunch and coffee throughout the day will be provided.
- Registration is encouraged, but not required - email to

11:30am  Mark Servos (U. Waterloo, Biology) Keynote address

Servos' bio from SETAC report:
Mark Servos, PhD, (Panel Co-Chair) holds a Canada Research Chair in Water Quality Protection in the Department of Biology, University of Waterloo. He is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Water Network, a national Network of Centres of Excellence on innovation in the water sector. His research and teaching program is focused on ecotoxicology, integrated water resources management, risk assessment, and management of emerging threats to water quality. His research includes examination of the risk management of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors in municipal and industrial effluents and agricultural best practices.
- SETAC report, page ii


ARESST: Correction to news blog: 


If you wish to participate in the survey - especially the sewage aspect, please click on the survey link and fill it out. Took me about 20 minutes to do it, focusing on the sewage treatment aspects. If you want to see the questions beforehand (as well as my weak attempts at responses, I've saved my survey on line. Minimally, you might just scroll through to the comments sections and fill out those, with your concerns about the sewage treatment regulations, sewage plant, etc.

Survey on Environment Canada Activities in Waste Reduction & Management

Environment Canada is currently evaluating its activities in support of waste reduction and management to assess their relevance and performance. These consist of a range of regulatory and non-regulatory risk management activities for water quality and waste issues (including effluents) which relate to the mining, pulp and paper, and wastewater sectors, as well as the storage, recovery, treatment, disposal and transboundary movement of waste.

This survey has been sent to a number of stakeholders who have had previous direct contact with Environment Canada in this area in order to provide an important perspective on the department’s performance.

The survey should take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.  Your responses are voluntary and will be kept confidential.  All responses will be compiled together and analyzed as a group.

Complete the survey by April 8th, 2011.  If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact the project lead, Shelley Tice, at or (819) 953-0835.

Click on the following link to proceed to the survey:


ARESST: National Pollutant registry lists Ammonia (582 tonnes)  and Phosphorus (92 tonnes) has being the biggest "pollutants" from Macaulay Point outfall (Clover Point slightly less of both) in 2009, but CRD storm water drain chemical lists (ie, Rock Bay) don't appear to include either nitrogen or phosphorus. ARESST members have noted that the pollutant registry doesn't address the actual environmental impact of such chemicals, which in the massively-large and active Strait oceangraphy is not likely to have a noticeable impact on marine flora or fauna.


Lawns are adding to Chesapeake Bay pollution, study says

Darryl Fears
Washington Post
March 28, 2011

Maryland requires cities and farms to keep a close eye on nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay, but a study released Monday says the state doesn’t pay enough attention to another major source of bay pollution: you and your thick, green lawn.

Grassy turf, not farmland, is the most dominant crop in the bay watershed. There were almost 1.3 million acres of planted turf in Maryland in 2009, compared with 1.5 million acres of all other crops, says the study by the Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center.

“Yet it is the least regulated of the state’s major crops,” the study says. That, the study says, has to change.

The study calls on Maryland to consider following other states, such as New York and New Jersey, which recently banned the use of fertilizers with phosphorous and imposed buffer zones around bodies of water.

“All 17 million of us who live in the watershed need to be part of the restoration effort,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). Not just wastewater facilities, municipalities and farmers, he said, but “homeowners and businesses also need to be part of the solution by reducing the chemicals we put on our lawns and other green spaces.”

Pollution in the bay increases when nutrients wash into its waters from snow and rainfall. And many lawn fertilizers have an excess of two problematic nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study criticizes Maryland’s regulation of the state’s turf crop as lax. Tracking “fertilizer use on developed land is such a low priority that the state doesn’t keep statistics on it, but Maryland Department of Agriculture records show non-farm-use fertilizers are quickly catching up to farm fertilizer sales,” the study says.

The MDA didn’t respond to a request for comment. But Vernon W. Cooper, president of the Maryland Turfgrass Council, disagreed with the study, saying that turf is “one of the best filters to prevent damage to the bay,” because it acts as a sponge that filters nutrients from rain runoff.

“A weak or thin lawn allows more sediment to be washed in the bay,” Cooper said.

The state agriculture department pledged last year to make nutrient management a high priority but collected only one fine, according to the study,

On its Web site, the Maryland Department of the Environment addressed lawn care in reports and a pollution checklist for homes, offices and cars.

“Try to purchase ‘low phosphorous’ or ‘no phosphorous’ fertilizers,” it says. “Any fertilizer that falls on your sidewalks or driveway should be swept back into the grass.”

As a result of nutrient pollution, “more than 80 percent of the bay and its . . . tributaries are either low-oxygen or no oxygen,” said the study, “Urban Fertilizers and the Chesapeake Bay.” Furthermore, the bay and its waters are “plagued with . . . harmful algae blooms,” causing seafood harvests that support commercial fisherman to plummet.

In a watershed in suburban Baltimore, researchers found that 56 percent of nutrients in one stream came from lawn fertilizer.

The Environmental Protection Agency initiated an effort this year to reduce the bay’s “pollution diet,” which addresses turf runoff. The plan has been criticized by conservatives in Congress, municipalities in Virginia, home builders and farm groups.


ARESST: Our RSTV members have been following the fate of Seattle's "Brightwater" sewage project, because the volume of sewage effluent is similar to Clover + Macaulay Points. Interesting that Brightwater started out at about $1.8 billion, then some reductions down to $1.6 billion, and now up to $2 billion?


28 March 2011

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Another gaping hole is plaguing King County's Brightwater Sewage Treatment System project. 

A sinkhole formed on a vacant property south of the Collage Condominiums near State Route 527 and NE 195th Circle earlier this month, and the county now believes the Brightwater project is to blame. 

The affected area is in a wooded and undeveloped property, the county said, and the sinkhole poses no threat to the surrounding area. The county is waiting on a permit to begin filling the sinkhole. 

The incident is the latest in a string of problems the project has faced, including another sinkhole. 

In 2009, a sinkhole some 15 feet deep opened up at the foot of a private driveway in Kenmore. King County said the work crews were performing some 150 feet below the surface caused the ground to sink away on Sunday.

And a KOMO News investigation uncovered evidence of construction spills at one part of the county's project, and prompted the state Department of Ecology to launch its own investigation of the $2 billion project.

In July 2008, a waste tank overflowed, spilling a muddy mix everywhere. One of the boring machines had hit sand, causing compressed air to explode up through the surface and sending a muddy soup downstream into the Sammamish Slough.