May 26, 2011



ARESST: Hear organizer Tim Morrison and Karen Jones introduce tonight's forum on CFAX Radio. Scroll to the 7 minute mark for the start of the interview at:


Forum Details: 7-9 pm, Thursday May 26, 2011 at SJ Willis High School Auditorium, 923 Topaz Ave., Victoria

Dear: Residents of Greater Victoria
There is much doubt that a land-based sewage treatment plant belongs anywhere in Victoria.
Now there is another regional mega-project to consider, light rail transit. For the first time, citizens across Victoria have the opportunity to collectively explore more information about Wastewater Management from experts who have no commercial stake in the outcome, apart from being reliable taxpayers like the rest of us.
We are organizing an educational forum, with speakers from a variety of disciplines and an opportunity for questions from the floor. Headlining the speakers panel will be Dr. Jack Littlepage, Dr. Andrea Copping, Dr. Richard Stanwick, Dr. Rebecca Warburton and Dr. Shaun Peck.
The Forum will offer up-to-date information about:
·        Victoria’s marine environment and the impact of our current and proposed  systems ,
·        Human health concerns with the current and proposed  systems,
·        Resource recovery opportunities; sludge disposal concerns,
·        The effect of present and proposed regulations,
·        Economic and social impacts;  cost-benefit analysis,
·        Specific recommendations regarding the best environmental bang for the buck.
We are seeking your support for this Forum.  Please contact the Directors of your local neighbourhood association and indicate your interest in gaining more knowledge about this issue.  Encourage your Directors to support the Forum. Most importantly, please come out for an informative evening on May 26 if you are interested in learning more.
This is an important regional issue, demanding a broad, grassroots level of engagement.   It’s the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Victoria. It will add several hundred dollars to everyone’s tax bill for years and years.  It is important to get it right!  If we are to influence our municipal councils, and through them the CRD, we need to fully understand the options.
Stefan Morales
Times Colonist
May 25, 2011

On the other side of the country, more than 400 Nova Scotian farms have banned the application of biosolids (treated sewage sludge) to their farmlands, yet the Halifax Regional Municipality continues to produce it.

While living in the Annapolis Valley in 2009, I witnessed the public outcry that emerged around the municipality's sewage treatment plan and I watched as the NDP government rejected a proposed provincewide ban on biosolids.

Upon returning to Victoria in 2010, I was surprised to find little public discussion regarding this controversial subject - until now.

Today, at the CRD core area liquidwaste management committee meeting, the committee members will decide whether or not to lift the ban on the land application of biosolids on our farmlands.

I hope that members of our community will recognize that applying biosolids to land isn't about recycling, it's about pollution transfer.

If I were to list all the toxins present in sewage sludge, I would quickly use up my allotted word count. I will say just this: Although we need an alternative to dumping sewage sludge into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, spreading it on our land is not it. Biosolids is a threat to human and environmental health. Please support the CRD's current ban on biosolids.

Stefan Morales 



Frank Stanford
CFAX 1070
May 25 2011

The Capital Regional Board's Environment Committee has voted not to support the application of "bio-solids" on farmland anywhere in the region.

The statement affirms a policy adopted a year and a half ago by the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee...which said the sludge created by the sewage treatment project should not be applied to land.

But it conflicts with a policy of the Saanich Peninsula Waste Water Commission...which has voted to launch a pilot project to determine the level of public acceptance of using sludge as fertilizer. If the full Board passes the Committee recommendation, sludge from the Peninsula sewage treatment plant will not be permitted to be distributed from any regionally-owned facility....although the CRD does not have the authority to order the Commission to shut down its program altogether.

Commission Chair Geoff Orr says the legalities may prove to be moot...he says farmers may decide, upon hearing the strong political statement today, not to volunteer to take part in a pilot anyway.

The campaign against bio-solids as fertilizer was led by Victoria City Councillor Phillipe Lucas, who says he may change his opinion in future, if technologists can figure out to remove heavy metals; hydro-carbons and pharmaceutical products from it.



Region's politicians don't want it on farmland
Kim Westad
Times Colonist
May 26, 2011
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The region's sewage committee reaffirmed Wednesday that it doesn't want biosolids -the sludge left over after all the water is taken out of sewage -on Capital Regional District land.

But the fact that the sludge was even considered for use on local farmland opened up the debate again on whether secondary sewage treatment is needed for the region.

"It's OK to put [the biosolids] on land but not in the water? What's the diff?" asked View Royal Mayor Graham Hill.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said: "There's an interesting conundrum about the regulatory acceptance of what we can put on water and what we can put on land. Why the difference?

"I don't think we've ever exceeded the amounts accepted in the water. Science has grown. Scientists are certainly standing stronger in their viewpoint that we are not creating the harm in the marine environment."

Currently, most of the region's sewage is shot into the ocean, after going through six-millimetre screens. But the provincial government has mandated the Capital Regional District to have secondary sewage treatment in place by 2016.

Those against sewage treatment, including a group of scientists and doctors who attend almost every sewage committee meeting to speak against the order, say local waters create a natural treatment system where the sewage is diffused such that it does not harm the environment.

Currently, a $782-million plan has been approved that would see a secondary treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, with the sludge piped out to the Hartland landfill in Saanich. But what to do with the sludge?

It has been used for agriculture in some parts of the world, or to fire concrete kilns. The CRD's sludge would likely be trucked to Vancouver, or possibly Crofton, for use in kilns.

The sewage committee voted last year to ban the use of biosolids on CRD land but the issue came up again because of the continuing debate on whether using sludge is safe for the environment, particularly on crops.

North Saanich Coun. Ruby Commandeur, who is also an organic farmer, argued against allowing sludge on farmland.

Commandeur said the word "biosolids" has been coined to make sludge sound more palatable, when it really is "everything that has been dumped or drained in our toilets, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, housecleaning products -anything you can think of."

Glenn Harris, the CRD's senior manager of environmental protection, said that different legislation applies to land-based biosolids, and sewage into the water. That legislation differs in how risk and damage are assessed.

The risk management protocol is different between sewage and biosolids, Harris said. Each has different regulations and management systems. Regulators say the risk is manageable for land-based biosolid use -but not for sewage in the ocean.

Complicating the issue is a recent resolution by the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Commission, which recently voted in favour of a pilot project to allow biosolids to be used on agricultural land.

The peninsula deals with its sewage separately from the CRD. Chairman Geoff Orr said the decision was made after receiving requests from some farmers who wanted it for their crops.

However, the commission has yet to receive any requests from farmers for biosolids.

Wednesday's discussion, at which the sewage committee met jointly with the environmental sustainability committee so that everyone had the same information, may influence the pilot project.

It will be discussed at the commission's next meeting on June 16.



MAY 22, 2011
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My Times Colonist arrived Friday morning with a front-page photo of Flyer the eaglet being rescued from his entrapment by fishing line in his nest. If not released he would have perished. This was a goodnews story, as Samaritans came forward to donate ingenuity, time and resources to his rescue.

I felt better. It worked, and Flyer will fly in the future.

The news inside wasn't good. The $100-million investment in UVic's Neptune array of undersea instruments had been compromised by a rogue trawler that, despite being in a no-trawl zone, had rumbled its nets over one of its undersea platforms, causing an estimated $1.7 million damage and an interruption of the scientific information being sent to researchers around the world.

One day, two stories with much in common.

How many eagle's nests have webcams? How many times do eaglets perish because no one witnesses their plight? We should celebrate the rescue, but it should give us much deeper cause for concern.

Flyer is symbolic of the state of our oceans. Thousands of square kilometres of ocean are littered with human debris; discarded fishing line is just one example.

We rescued Flyer, but the longterm answer for the many Flyers around the world requires us to stop using our oceans as dumping grounds. This is not difficult, and we can all help.

It's ironic that one of the world's most advanced scientific monitoring devices was knocked off by a pirate. But, you might say, I thought the pirates were gone, or at least restricted their operations to places like Somalia.

Unfortunately this is not true. We have intricate fishing regulations in Canada and around the world, but the ocean is large and surveillance difficult and expensive. We rely mainly upon the integrity of individual fishers. The continuing downward spiral of global fisheries tells us this is not working.

Global pirates are still at work. We have a $1.7 million bill for repairs to Neptune to prove it.

This particular pirate was detected simply because he undertook piracy in an area that had such an undersea scientific platform. How often does such piracy go undetected?

This is why we need marine protected areas (MPAs), where fishing is banned completely from at least 30 per cent of that area and pirates are not allowed in.

The global community recognizes this need; hence the international agreement under the Convention on Biodiversity that says nations should have at least 10 per cent of their oceans protected in MPA networks by 2012.

Currently, Canada has about onetenth of this amount. We are going to pretend we have more by claiming that fishery closures are MPAs. They are not, as the destruction of the NEPTUNE platform shows.

Will MPAs solve the problem? Unfortunately, no. Under Canada's legislation, astonishingly, bottom trawling is not banned, even in the 10 per cent of the ocean that is our current goal for protection.

And of that 10 per cent, only a small fraction is off limits to fishing. In our only area protected under Parks Canada's National Marine Conservation Areas Act, Gwaii Hanaas, only three per cent excludes fishing. That's not three of the ocean, that's three per cent of the actual protected area.

Why wasn't more protected? Push back from the fishing industry we are told. And our government caved in. (It's time we had a webcam in on those negotiations.)

Science from around the world shows we need at least 30 per cent of each marine habitat set aside to achieve our marine conservation goals.

A team of independent Canadian scientists released a set of guidelines on international best practices for marine protected areas last week at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria. The guidelines could help guide Canada in adopting acceptable practices.

We hope these are heeded. We should not pretend that we are protecting marine environments when we are doing so little.

The rescue of Flyer is cause for celebration, but it's also a warning.There was no large government process -the Federal-Provincial Inter-Agency Committee for the Strategy Evaluation of the Potential for Perhaps Rescuing the Eaglet, Flyer. Flyer would have died if there was

It was concerned sectors of society, human ingenuity, public donations, the desire to do the right thing, and most importantly, action, which rescued Flyer. We need the same combination for our oceans.

- Philip Dearden is chair of the geography department and leader of the marine protected area research group at the University of Victoria. He chaired the local organizing committee for last week's International Marine Conservation Congress.


ARESST: Some readers of article below might infer that Victoria's marine-based sewage treatment could contribute to marine mammal deaths. However, Monterey Bay Aquarium is warning its visitors - most of whom would have secondary-stage sewage treatment - not to flush cat litter/feces down the toilet. Thus, sewage treatment plants have no significant impact on the survivability of the harmful toxoplasmosis oocysts in the cat feces.


Globe and Mail
May. 24, 2011 
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Two parasites normally associated with land animals have been found in a wide array of marine species discovered dead on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

A joint Canada-U.S. study examined 151 marine mammals that had washed ashore – including seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphin and porpoises – and another 10 sea lions that were healthy when killed in the Columbia River to protect salmon stocks.

All but four of the animals were infected with either Sarcocystis neurona or Toxoplasma gondii – parasites that are shed in the feces of infected cats or opossums, said Michael Grigg of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who led the study.

While marine mammals can carry either parasite without becoming seriously ill, Dr. Grigg said 62 of the animals had both parasites, a combination that often proved fatal.

“When the marine mammals were co-infected with both parasites, that’s when we saw massive inflammation, brain swelling and death,” Dr. Grigg said.

Sarcocystis neurona is not known to infect people, but Toxoplasma gondii causes toxoplasmosis, an illness that is a threat to the fetuses of pregnant women and can be severe or even fatal in people who have compromised immune systems.

Dr. Grigg said the presence of the parasites in marine mammals does not raise any increased human health concerns, however.

“If you filter or boil your water, you have no concerns … [and] if you cook your food, you are fine … these parasites are completely inactivated at 50 degrees C for five minutes,” he said.

Dr. Grigg said researchers can’t say what route the parasites take to get into the marine mammals, most of which are high up the food chain, but the hypothesis is that the feces of infected animals wash into rivers, then flush into the ocean where they concentrate in filter feeders, such as mussels, or are transmitted by small bait fish.

Dr. Grigg said Toxoplasma gondii caused an outbreak of toxoplasmosis in 1995 in Greater Victoria, where people were infected by drinking unfiltered water from the city’s reservoir.

“Epidemiological evidence suggests a couple of wild cats, cougars, had defecated in the environment and after a big storm those feces were washed into the reservoir. Over 4,000 people in the Victoria area were exposed to this parasite, toxoplasma, and … about 100 people ended up going to the hospital,” he said.

Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia government’s Animal Health Centre, said one big concern is the devastating impact the two parasites have in combination on marine mammals.

“It was really amazing in terms of how significant some of the lesions were in the brains of these animals that we examined. Very dramatic,” Dr. Raverty said. “It really caused you to think of what the potential implications might be. … It’s something that would pose a threat to the overall population and status of these animals.”

During the five years the study was conducted, from 2004 to 2009, more than 5,000 dead marine mammals were reported on the coastal beaches of the Pacific Northwest. It is estimated only a small percentage of mammals that die at sea wash ashore.

Dr. Raverty said researchers focused only on dead animals that appeared to have been infected by parasites. He said a much wider sample of animals would need to be tested to determine how many mammals died of parasites over all.

The study, which involved researchers from the University of British Columbia, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Research Collective, was published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

A harbour porpoise that died recently at Vancouver Aquarium, after being rescued off Saltspring Island, had a parasitic infection thought to be caused by either Sarcocystis neurona or Toxoplasma gondii. That animal was not part of the study.

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