April 22, 2011




ESC meets Wednesday, 27 APRIL 2011, 9am
CRD Board Room, 6th floor, 625 Fisgard Street, Victoria, BC

AGENDA items with sewage-related links:

5.#ERM 11-33 Integration of Liquid and Solid Waste Management Plans – Feasibility Study

6.#EEE 11-30 Hartland Landfill – Long-Term Gas Management Plan

7.#EEP 11-31 Land Application of Class A Biosolids – Literature Review

8. Motion for Which Notice Has Been Given re Harmonize Practices at Hartland Landfill with the Core Area Liquid Waste Strategy – Director Lucas

10. Report from Roundtable on the Environment (RTE) (report not on website)

Minutes from 23 March Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting:


ARESST: Quote from news below: Metro homeowners now pay an average of $180 per year for liquid waste, but that rate is expected to rise another $10 a year until 2015 as Metro upgrades the Iona and Lions Gate plants to secondary treatment, which is estimated to cost $1.4 billion.

Heavy rainstorms could create havoc with old, leaky pipes
APRIL 20, 2011
Metro Vancouver's sanitary sewer system and treatment plants are at risk of being overwhelmed in heavy rainstorms because of old, cracked and leaky pipes across the region.

The issue has prompted Metro Vancouver to consider building more storage tanks to hold the overflow, while urging businesses and homeowners to upgrade their private sewage pipes.

Metro Vancouver chief financial officer Jim Rusnak noted more than half the pipes running from toilets, sinks and showers across the region are privately owned by businesses and homeowners.

These pipes connect with the Metro Vancouver sanitary sewer system, which carries the water to the sewage treatment plants. The plants have the capacity to accept about 11,200 litres per hectare per day. Any overflow is diverted to storage tanks in New Westminster and Cloverdale.

But because so many privately owned pipes are cracked, rainwater seeps into the ground around buildings and trickles into the cracked pipes, flowing into Metro Vancouver's sanitary sewer system.

This increases the risk of raw sewage overflowing from the storage tanks into Burrard Inlet and the Strait of Georgia during heavy rainstorms.

There have already been reported instances of the Cloverdale tank overflowing, resulting in a sewage spill.

"What ends up coming down the stream is beyond the capacity of the waste water treatment plant," Rusnak said.

North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton warned storage will become a longterm issue in the region.

"When it rains heavily, there's massive seepage in the sewer system because of wear and tear and leaks," he said.

"There's double the amount of water coming in from rain, so it needs extra treatment. How do we step back and make sure we have everything covered? The costs of this are huge."

Metro Vancouver has budgeted about $41 million in its long-range plan to deal with the problem, which could include building more storage tanks and patching up the region's pipes.

But Metro chief executive Johnny Carline urged the regional district during a special budget workshop this month to encourage municipalities and private sewer owners to upgrade their pipes, saying there's often no incentive for them to have the work done or the owners don't realize there's a problem.

Rusnak agreed Metro would like to see a coordinated effort to repair the system.

Metro homeowners now pay an average of $180 per year for liquid waste, but that rate is expected to rise another $10 a year until 2015 as Metro upgrades the Iona and Lions Gate plants to secondary treatment, which is estimated to cost $1.4 billion.



Paul Rogers
Silicon Valley Mercury News

San Jose's planned modernization of its sewage treatment plant -- already the most expensive public works project in city history -- is growing even more costly.

As the project goes before the City Council on Tuesday for a key vote to begin environmental studies, the tally looks like this:

In December, managers of the city's Environmental Services Department estimated the cost to rebuild the plant at $1.6 billion. In the four months since, they upped it to $1.8 billion.

San Jose residents have seen a 73 percent increase in their sewage bills over the past seven years -- from $18.96 a month in 2004 to $32.86 now -- largely to pay for the cost of the plant. The Environmental Services Department is projecting another jump in residential rates of up to 35 percent in the next four years, to $44.36 by 2015, pending City Council approval.

Some expenses are raising eyebrows. Last year, the Environmental Services Department spent $65,000 to hire "an artist in residence" to take scenic photos of the sewage plant. The department anticipates spending $6 million on public art at the sewage plant over the next 30 years.

'Nothing extravagant'

City leaders overseeing the project note that the Alviso plant, built in the 1950s, is a massive facility that serves 1.4 million people in eight South Bay cities. Rebuilding its tanks, digesters, turbines, tunnels and electrical system, they note, is a costly but vital job.

"We are only charging fees as needed to rebuild the critical infrastructure of the city," said John Stufflebean, director of the city's Environmental Services Department. "There's nothing extravagant whatsoever in any of the things we are planning to do."

The $200 million jump in the project's cost, he said, is due to the city and its consultant, Carollo Engineers, realizing that additional seismic work will be needed, along with changes to tunnels, piping and the life of some equipment.

Stufflebean agreed that unemployment is high and times are tough for many families who are being asked to pay higher monthly rates. But like an aging car, he said, the city's plumbing system can only be repaired so many times before it needs major new parts and rebuilding.

"If we don't do anything it will fall apart," he said. "And we are rebuilding it in the most cost-effective way."

Stufflebean defended hiring photographer Robert Dawson for six months to shoot scenic portraits of tanks filtering the contents of Silicon Valley's toilets. He said the photos have been used in educational materials for the public, and even have increased morale among plant workers.

"He isn't just taking pictures, he is creating works of art," said Stufflebean. "They are some absolutely amazing pictures."

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said Monday that spending $65,000 for a photographer was not a prudent use of public money. And despite a city ordinance that calls for 1 percent of new construction of public facilities to go for public art, he said he will argue in the months ahead to City Council members to carve out an exception.

"It's not really a public facility like an airport or a convention center," Reed said. "It's a pretty weak argument we should spend any money there on art."

Still, Reed says the work on the facility is vital and that the city intends to work hard to keep costs down.

"This is a really big project.

Failure is not an option," Reed said. "This is a sewage treatment plant. It has to be rebuilt. But we will be cautious at not building more than we need or spending more money than is necessary to build it."

Tough economic times

If the council gives the go-ahead Tuesday, the city will begin an environmental impact report. Sometime after it is completed in early 2013, the council will vote on a final budget for the project.

Reed noted that as economic times have worsened, the city has scaled back other projects. He cited the San Jose airport, which a decade ago was considering a $4.5 billion upgrade, but instead approved a $1.3 billion plan. The city's convention center was in line for a $300 million upgrade, but now will get a $120 million face-lift instead.

The sewage plant gets no money from the city's general fund -- only from the rates paid by residents in San Jose and the other contributing cities -- so money saved there cannot be spent on libraries or firefighters. Until San Jose's rate increases started in 2004, the city had gone 10 years without raising sewage rates.

Still, the rising prices are drawing new attention from local fiscal watchdogs.

"It is clear that this agency is not currently operating on an 'austerity budget,' " said John Greenagel, executive director of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association.

Jerry Mungai, a board member of the Almaden Valley Community Association, echoed those concerns.

"City Hall was supposed to cost $300 million and cost more than $400 million," he said. "What assurances do we have that they have a handle on the cost projections on this one? I'm in favor of basic fundamental services. But I want to be sure we aren't being sandbagged like we always are on these projects."



Des Moines Register
April 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled out for now regulating runoff from farms in the Mississippi River basin, saying voluntary measures should be given time to work.

Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, who visited two Iowa farms Tuesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, said she assured a gathering of agricultural leaders that the agency had no plans to impose pollution regulations like those being used to clean up Chesapeake Bay.

"I am ruling out the need for us to move directly to a regulatory mechanism when we have folks stepping up and are willing to do the conservation measures," she told reporters after the visits.

Jackson has been under fire for months from Republicans and agribusiness interests over environmental agency actions or rumors that the agency was going to issue regulations on a range of issues, including dust and pesticides as well as water pollution.

Runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus from farms damages water quality in Iowa and elsewhere in the Mississippi basin and contributes to a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

A recent analysis of Iowa erosion data by the Environmental Working Group found that soil is being washed from the land at a much higher rate than government estimates had indicated or that can be sustained without harm to agricultural productivity.

Jackson, who visited farms at Pleasantville and Prairie City and a biodiesel plant at Newton, said she realized "there's been fear, real fear, that we would take what we're doing in the Chesapeake Bay and translate it here verbatim without regard to what is going on the ground."

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, a Republican, said that cuts in state and federal conservation programs will make it difficult to make the conservation measures needed to reduce farm runoff, such as building wetlands.

Congress has been rolling back planned increases in spending for conservation programs that preserve land or subsidize the cost of soil anti-pollution measures. The programs could face deeper cuts when Congress writes the next farm bill in 2012.

Agencies are reducing personnel needed to work on the programs, and the cost to farmers of doing the earthmoving and other work is rising, he said.

"Water quality efforts are not inexpensive," Northey said.

Voluntary conservation measures have been insufficient to address the water quality problems caused by Midwest farm runoff, said Craig Cox, the Environmental Working Group's senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

"We've been working at this a long time now with voluntary programs," Cox said. "The problems aren't getting better and in some cases they're getting quite a bit worse."

The Prairie City meeting with Jackson and Vilsack included leaders of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Farmers Union and groups representing corn, hogs, cattle, eggs and other commodities.

"What I saw today was an industry that recognizes that the regulations and standards under environmental laws are for the protection of all Americans," Jackson said.

"I didn't have anyone, not one person, walk up and say, 'Please go away. Take EPA away.' What they asked was that regulations reflect reality on the ground, the challenges that farmers and ranchers face."


ARESST: Many of you will know Dr. Thomas Pedersen as one of the signatories of the Chapman letter (Sewage Treatment Wasted - The Victoria Example)


Thomas Pedersen, Director
Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, UVic

Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 4pm
Wright Bldg A104, University of Victoria
Location: http://www.uvic.ca/buildings/sci.html

Global warming caused by human activities is happening, it is scientifically well understood and, as will be discussed in the lecture, it presents a serious challenge to human societies. But in that challenge lies an opportunity for us to do things better, to unleash a new era of creativity, to improve the stewardship of our natural environment, and to revitalize our economy while generating new, cleaner industrial activity.

Taking such action demands concerted political leadership and policy development informed by high-quality interdisciplinary research. The latter requirement led the Government of British Columbia to create in 2008 the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), an endowed four-university consortium hosted and led by the University of Victoria that focuses on blending the social and physical sciences and engineering to provide best-practice policy pathways that the provincial government can follow.

The role PICS is now playing in contributing to British Columbia's response to the climate-change challenge will be described and set within the larger North American context. But there remains a problem: most 'climate solutions' are not of provincial scale, and many span, if not the full globe, at least the scale of the nation or continents. 'Solutions' case studies that span both the science-policy intersection and large spatial scales will be presented. For example, the directive to enhance corn-ethanol production in the U. S. has reinforced unwelcome, distal oceanographic impacts that might have been curbed had science and interdisciplinary discussion been used more effectively in the policy design. And in Canada, our provincially-controlled electrical grid system hampers our ability to accommodate renewable energy, thereby limiting the scope we have to reduce CO2 emissions. Europe is taking a collective, aggressive and different tack that will be contrasted to the current situation in Canada.

Finally, it is increasingly clear that Canada could take steps that would simultaneously allow us to reduce carbon emissions--an imperative that climate science tells us is a must--while yielding significant new economic value. Getting there will require recognition by the Canadian public (and its mirror - our politicians) of both need and opportunity. Therein lies another challenge--one which PICS is also addressing--that is rooted in the communication of science, economic perceptions and economic reality, and human behavioural psychology.

Many Voices, One Sea


Abstracts Due May 27, 2011

The Conference Steering Committee invites submissions of abstracts for consideration for the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. Notification of acceptance will be issued in July.

The conference program will cover a wide range of topics that address the science, policy and management of the Salish Sea ecosystem. An earlier Call for Session Proposals identified a range of topics to be addressed during conference sessions, listed below. Consideration will also be given to other emerging issues/topics not already identified. Abstract submissions should encourage interdisciplinary and transboundary collaboration and networking among scientists, policy-makers, students and other stakeholders.

Session formats include oral and poster presentations, panels and other facilitated discussions, a data fair, and others. Most sessions are 90 minutes in length. A limited number of sessions will be longer.


Abstracts are invited for oral and poster presentations related to the broad topic categories listed below.

Please click here for full list of sessions and session descriptions. Presenters should select the specific session to which they would like to submit an abstract. Consideration also will be given to other emerging issues and topics not already identified.

  • Watersheds, Hydrology, Integrating Land and Sea
  • Water Quality
  • Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
  • Transboundary Air
  • Aquatic Plants and Invasive Species
  • Species and Food Webs
  • Ecosystem Management and Cumulative Effects
  • Tribal/First Nations
  • Environmental Indicators and Monitoring
  • Governance and Collaboration
  • Shoreline and Estuary Management and Restoration
  • Watershed and Land Management and Restoration
  • Citizen Science and Education
  • Science, Policy and the Media
  • Prioritization, Risk Assessment and Decision making

Note: Certain "restricted" sessions are accepting submissions only from invited speakers, as noted in the Abstract Submission Form.

Presentation Guidelines

Oral Presentation Guidelines: Oral presentation length depends on the format of each individual session. Conveners will work with their respective session participants to clarify particular requirements. For standard sessions with four to six presenters, we recommend presentations be between 10 and 15 minutes to allow time for questions and discussion. In general, we recommend no more than 10 slides for most presentations. Presenters are encouraged to focus on study results and their implications and relate their work and results to those being presented by others, especially other presentations in the session. Session rooms will be equipped with a screen, projector and computer (PC).

Poster Presentation Guidelines: Poster presentations will use charts, tables, graphs, photos and/or drawings to complement explanatory text. Presenters will be provided with a 4’x 4’ bulletin board area to mount their poster. Presenters will be expected to be available to informally discuss their study or project/program with conference participants at the Poster Gala Reception, Tuesday, October 25, and during lunches/coffee breaks over the course of the conference. Posters will be grouped according to the topic they address. During the conference, conference organizers will be making efforts to ensure that attendees of oral sessions are notified of and encouraged to visit posters that are related to oral presentations.

Data Fair – Web-based Ecosystem Tools

If a sufficient number of eligible organizations express interest, the conference will feature a special Data Fair showcasing resources related to data collection, handling and sharing, mapping, modeling, and other relevant tools. The Data Fair will be located in a high-traffic foyer on Tuesday, October 25. Representatives must staff their displays during breaks and the evening Poster Gala, and may also choose to staff their displays throughout the day. Conference attendees can drop in, view displays, interact with the representatives, and experiment with models or databases on screen, and so on. Governmental, academic, and nonprofit organizations may receive a space allocation to feature resources that are freely available and may be of interest and benefit to conference delegates. Please note that space is limited.

In addition to information about the content and purpose of your display, the abstract must also identify your request for space allocation, electrical outlets, internet connection, and other needs. You must provide your own laptop and associated equipment.

Note: Commercial representatives and representatives of proprietary data or systems are encouraged to consider securing exhibit space to feature their products and services. Please see the sponsors and exhibits page.

Submission Requirements and Procedures

Please make your submission through the online Abstract Submission Form by May 27.

Submissions will be reviewed by respective session conveners, and approved and selected by the Conference Steering and Advisory Committee. Final program content and format is at the discretion of the committees. Proposed presenters will receive notice of acceptance in early July.

All presenters are required to register for the conference (minimum of one-day registration) and cover all travel and accommodation expenses.

Conference Timeline

April 18, 2011 - Call for Abstracts released
May 27, 2011 - Call for Abstracts closes
June, 2011 - Evaluation and selection of abstracts (Conference Steering and Advisory Committees and session conveners)
June 30, 2011 - End of Supersaver Conference Rate
July, 2011 - Presenters notified
October 25 -27, 2011 - Conference held at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver B.C. Pre-Conference Workshops and Field trips on October 24, 2011.
November 10, 2011 - Proceedings submissions due


The conference organizers will produce web-based proceedings of the conference. Individual presenters will be required to submit proceedings, and have the option of submitting an extended abstract, PDF of PowerPoint presentation or full manuscript of their oral or poster presentation. Session conveners must also submit an edited report or summary of the session and its outcomes.

The deadline for all proceedings submissions is November 10, 2011. Presenters, however, are encouraged to submit their proceedings before October 25.

Questions may be directed to:

Verney Conference Management
Telephone: (866) 814-8317

Jennie Wang - Conference Secretariat
Telephone: (604) 664-9357 

Andrea Lindsay – Conference Secretariat
Telephone: (360) 464-1225