June 26, 2011

WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER (storm water contamination)


5. Core Area Infrastructure Upgrade Projects for 2011

6. #EWW 11-52 Tsunami Simulation Model – Core Area Wastewater Treatment Project

7. New Business

Next meeting 13 July


WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER (storm water contamination in CRD)

Emma Prestwich
Oak Bay News, Victoria News, Saanich News, Goldstream Gazette
June 23, 2011 

We’re not doing enough to deal with storm water, says a local environmental research group.

The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre has high expectations for how the region deals with runoff. While there have been some good piecemeal strategies, a watershed-wide plan is needed, said the centre’s legal director Calvin Sandborn.

“There’s been tremendous innovation that has happened at every level … it’s just a matter of pulling it together,” he said.

Storm water runs off roofs, down driveways and over pavement, collecting paint chips, oil, lead and other toxins before converging in storm drains and flowing out onto beaches and into waterways.

Natural absorption methods, or what the centre calls low-impact development, include rain gardens, green roofs and porous pavement. They absorb storm water through the soil, which filters the pollutants then returns clean water back to the watershed, instead of letting large quantities flow untreated into waterways. Toxins and high flow rates have wrecked the region’s shellfish beds and salmon streams, Sandborn said.

“If we could move to green rainwater management, we could have salmon streams all over Victoria.”

In some pipes, like the outdated ones in the Uplands subdivision, storm water and sewage flow together. The bacteria from the sewage are widely considered a public health hazard.

Right now municipalities only have bylaw jurisdiction over their tiny corner of the watershed, Sandborn said. While most already have their own strategies for dealing with storm water, many have different focuses and are at different stages of development.

“For this to work we have to take a system approach, we can’t divide up watersheds.”

ELC representatives have been making presentations to Capital Region municipalities since May 2010, urging them to adopt recommendations from a report published last year, which pushes low-impact development. Sandborn said they’ve generally had a positive response.

Based on one of the report’s recommendations, the City of Victoria plans to implement storm water utility. The flat rate will see homeowners charged for the storm water that flows off their property, based on the amount of pavement on the lot. Homeowners who choose to remove downspouts or put in rain gardens or green roofs would have their bill reduced.

The report also includes a suggestion that the Capital Regional District create a regional “rainwater commission” to allow municipalities to work together and to create a joint plan to deal with storm water.

But the CRD doesn’t see a unified plan as the only answer.

“I would say that a regional approach could be a very effective way of addressing the issue,” said Dale Green, who supervises storm water harbours and watersheds for the CRD. “I think the challenge right now is that all the municipalities are trying with the resources they have.”

The regional district has no way to regulate each local government, it just acts as a resource, said Green. He facilitates an inter-municipal task group a few times a year where ideas are exchanged, and resources and advice shared.

While civic boundaries aren’t designed around storm water catchment, the City of Langford has worked hard to manage its storm water drainage where it flows downstream to other municipalities, said head engineer John Manson.

He thinks municipalities do a good job of working together already. “I don’t think there’s much of a conflict.”

Langford came up with a plan for green storm water management several years ago. The results can be seen in the porous brick on Bryn Maur Road and the detention ponds and infiltrators at Bear Mountain and the Westhills housing development. Also, a lot of the new developments feature rock fill, which absorbs water and lets it flow into the soil.

Sandborn said while green technologies are more attractive, they’re also cheaper in the long run than redoing existing infrastructure, because solutions such as rain gardens cost little to install.

But first, everyone needs to co-operate.

“It’s doesn’t do us much good if local and regional governments get on board, but developers and homeowners don’t.”

Is it dangerous?

While storm water is considered a public health hazard, it’s a bigger issue in the fall and winter, says Vancouver Island Health Authority medical health officer Murray Fyfe.

High levels of bacteria and pathogens appear in the water when overflow from big storms spills into sewage pipes and the sewer system is overwhelmed, causing fecal material to flow onto beaches.

In many areas, liquid waste also flows into storm water pipes, as runoff and sewage are only separated by a low dividing wall.

In the Uplands subdivision in Oak Bay, storm water and sewage run together. Seepage also happens where there are in cracked pipes.

The Capital Regional District monitors storm water outflows and posts advisories if public health is at risk. Fyfe estimates there are two to three dozen problems per year.

He says ingesting such bacteria as fecal coliform and e.coli, which indicate the existence of other bacteria and viruses, can cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested or skin and eye infections if the skin is exposed.

The current Canadian Recreational Water guidelines consider any concentration of these bacteria to be unsafe in public areas.

VIHA routinely monitors public beaches in summer for the presence of animal droppings in the water or other sources of contamination.

To check the current public health status of Island beaches, please visit http://www.viha.ca/mho/water/beach_reports.htm



Thanks to one of our ARESST scientists for correction to my comment in last email - here is his information (my bolding): 

Your comments about NH4+  in the sewage effluent below are incorrect.  The effluent pH is always below 7.4 and normally <7.0.  

This is lower than the receiving environment.   

There are good reasons for this.  Sewage effluent is freshwater that has a low alkalinity and the consumption of organic matter by bacteria in 
the pipes enroute to the pumping stations produces CO2 which lowers pH.  

The effluent is relatively acidic when compared to seawater.  

But seawater has great capacity for neutralizing the small number of acid equivalents delivered by effluent flow.


ARESST: Excerpt from article below: Its ocean environment is different from that of the core, where sewage is shot into the water via pipes after going through six millimetre screens. The CRD has been mandated by the province to provide secondary treatment by 2016.


Treated effluent fuels thermal-energy pilot project
Kim Westad
Times Colonist
June 25, 2011

Energy pulled from treated effluent is being used to heat the Panorama Recreation Centre pool and could soon be used in a nearby school, businesses and homes.

The innovative thermal energy program saves almost $80,000 a year in natural gas costs for the North Saanich rec centre, and eliminates about 560 tonnes of greenhouse gases from being discharged per year - about the same as taking 100 cars off the road.

The pilot project was officially unveiled Friday, but has been in operation for the past two months, the work of the Capital Regional District and the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Commission.

The wastewater commission deals with sewage for Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich.

Unlike the rest of the region, the Peninsula has had secondary sewage treatment for years.

Its ocean environment is different from that of the core, where sewage is shot into the water via pipes after going through six millimetre screens. The CRD has been mandated by the province to provide secondary treatment by 2016.

The commission and the CRD successfully applied for funding from the federal Gas Tax Agreements Innovations Fund so they could pilot a thermal energy program that is successfully used in Europe, but has so far been rarely used in Canada, said commission chairman Geoff Orr.

The gas tax fund gave almost $3 million, with the remaining $300,000 borrowed from the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater System sewer debt reserve fund.

The result is a system that CRD engineers say is a simple process, using heat exchanges and heat pumps, but with a cutting-edge application.

The sewage goes through secondary treatment. At the same site, the treated effluent goes through an energy recovery system.

Half of its heat is extracted through a heat exchange system.

During that process, the thermal heat from the treated effluent is transferred to a separate closed potable water loop.

The loop runs 1.6 kilometres to the rec centre, where its temperature is raised to the necessary 57 degrees Celsius by onsite heat pumps before it is used to heat the 25-metre pool.

The treated effluent and the potable water are in two separate closed loops that do not come into contact with each other, said Dan Telford, the senior manager of environmental engineering for the CRD.

"We have basically eliminated the use of fossil fuels at the pool," said Telford.

The plant was built with the future in mind, and could easily be expanded, he said.

Heating the pool is taking up about 20 per cent of its current capacity, and that capacity could be doubled in the future.

It would take very little to expand to Kelset elementary school, just across the road from the rec centre, to the nearby Centre of Plant Health, the Panorama ice rink and nearby homes.

Business cases for expansion are being carried out.


ARESST: Although not opposed to land-based sewage treatment plant, VEHS has in the past criticized siting at McLoughlin Point. Letter below illustrates the issue that a sewage plant at McLoughlin Point would largely reduce Esquimalt's access to the harbour for other uses.

John Sanderson
Times Colonist
June 26, 2011

A recent letter criticizing the Victoria/Esquimalt Harbour Society's position on the draft official community plan shows a lack of understanding of our harbour that is unfortunately common in the city.

The writer argued it is no longer necessary for business built on waterfront property to require water access. He points out that the harbour is no longer industrial and lists an array of tourism, recreational and transportation businesses that have replaced the industry.

Each of the businesses he lists requires commercial access to the water.

Victoria is a harbour city and as such the needs of the harbour must be a major part of the community plan. As with any living thing, many of the harbour's needs will change over time but the need for commercial access to the water will remain.

The final OCP must include the requirement that development on harbour lands must include a need for water access. Without this, the future of our harbour is in doubt.

John Sanderson