June 18, 2011



ARESST: CALWMC meeting 15 June was completely "in camera", so no agenda, minutes or reports available. Next CALWMC meet is 29 June.


Meets June 22, 2011 at 9:30 am
Board Room, 6th floor, 625 Fisgard St

AGENDA Excerpt:

5. #EHQ 11-49 Results of Feasibility Studies on Waste to Energy

6. #ERM 11-50 Environmental Resource Management Budget Outlook – 2012-2014

7. #ERM 11-48 2010 Environmental Resource Management Annual Report

11. Report from Roundtable on the Environment

12. Report from Solid Waste Advisory Committee

Report for Item 6:

Item 07 ERM 11-48 2010 Environmental Resource Management Annual Report 

Excerpt: "Leachate quality monitoring confirmed that leachate discharged from the site was in compliance with CRD's Sewer Use Bylaw regulating discharges to the sanitary sewer." (page 12)



June 15, 2011 

Re: Rising taxes getting tiresome (News, June 10)

I note that my Victoria property taxes have increased by 52 per cent in 10 years, with no change in the state of the property. At this rate of increase, my taxes will be twice that of 2002 (the year I bought my house) by 2017, and four times as high by 2032. How are pensioners on a fixed income to cope with this?

This rate is unsustainable for taxpayers, and is likely to grow faster given incremental projects such as the new bridge and sewage treatment, not to mention current infrastructure problems which need work.

Our elected politicians need to work on the essentials. Kill the sewage project, as the scientific expertise is telling us it is not needed. If amalgamation helps to cut costs, then get that done soon!

Roel Hurkens



June 14, 2011

Re: Sewage forum comes too late (Our View, June 1).

It’s totally a defeatist attitude for Black Press to say that an unnecessary, billion-dollar sludge-producing sewage plant should go ahead merely because ignorant Capital Regional District politicians have already spent some money on it.

There hasn’t even been a marine environmental impact assessment done yet, and the CRD doesn’t even really know where and how it can deal with all the sewage sludge produced.

The ARESST forum scientists and doctors shone a bright light on the foolishness of spending so much on a sewage plan that will deliver so little – while the real pollution problems are still not addressed.

Shame on Black Press!

John Newcomb



Please keep Unsafe Human Waste Off BC's Lands, Waterways and Dinner Plates!

Currently 91 Signatures 

Published by Philippe Lucas on May 04, 2011

We, the undersigned, hereby express our support of the current CRD CALWC ban on the land application of biosolids, and strongly oppose plans by the Saanich Peninsula Waste Commission to conduct a pilot-project of large-scale biosolid application to regional farmland. 

Petition and Preamble: 



By Keven Drews, 
The Canadian Press
14 June 2011

VANCOUVER — Fraser River sockeye could be getting sick or even dying because of a daily cocktail of household chemicals entering the watershed, a judicial inquiry has heard.

Aquatic toxicology expert Peter Ross testified Tuesday that many of the 23,000 chemicals listed on the federal government's domestic-substances list may not immediately kill fish but could predispose them to future health problems.

"They might reduce their growth, confuse them, affect their ability to smell, to find their home stream, reduce their immune system, make them vulnerable to disease, outbreaks of disease, or affect their energetics, in other words, their ability to feed and grow," Ross said.

He said the true impact of contaminants may become apparent only when salmon get viruses, encounter food-supply shortages, experience climate change or if their habitat is destroyed.

As a result, researchers should be studying how contaminants are affecting salmon in the "real world," Ross said.

But he noted that's currently not happening.

The inquiry is examining the decline of the sockeye salmon population in the Fraser River.

It has heard that restructuring of the Fisheries Department between 2004 and 2006 hampered fish habitat protection when some duties were shifted to Environment Canada.

ARESST: Vancouver sewage effluent seen as "smoking gun" but scientist blames it anyway even though the dismal 2009 sockeye run was followed by a huge 2010 run!


Jeff Nagel
BC Local News
June 15, 2011

The toxins Metro Vancouverites flush down their toilets or pour down the drain have likely contributed to the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon, a panel of scientists told the Cohen Commission Tuesday.

There's no "smoking gun" that points to sewage effluent as a leading culprit in the dramatic collapse of the 2009 sockeye run, said Dr. Ken Ashley, a BCIT instructor and consultant.

But he and others rated it a probable factor in the longer term trend of diminishing salmon returns.

Dr. Peter Ross, a marine mammal toxicologist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Institute of Oceans Sciences, said there's growing concern about the discharge of persistent chemicals that accumulate in the environment and threaten fish and sea life.

Emerging chemicals of concern include flame retardants such as PBDEs, bisphenol-A, phthlates, nanoparticles, synthetic musks and personal care products.

"PBDEs have been doubling every 3.5 years in harbour seals in the Strait of Georgia," Ross said, adding very high concentrations have been found in sediments near Metro Vancouver's sewage treatment outfalls and in Burrard Inlet.

Such chemicals might not kill fish outright but may pose more subtle threats, even at minute levels, the commission heard.

Endocrine disruptors can interfere with hormones and in some cases feminize fish.

They can also reduced growth and suppress immune systems.

Panelists said sockeye need to "smell their way" back home to their birth streams to spawn and the soup of chemicals mixed into the waters of Georgia Strait and the Fraser River could confuse them and reduce their chances.

Sewage treatment plant monitoring relies on tests of how many sample fish exposed to effluent die within four days but don't specifically test for many chemicals or consider their longer term cumulative impacts.

"From my perspective, that has very little to do with the real world," Ross said.

He supported broader testing of effluent for such chemicals and said he tried but failed to persuade federal officials to make that a requirement in new standards Ottawa has set out to govern sewage treatment.

Ross said tests should look at not just the impact of individual chemicals but the complex mixtures that can form and interact unpredictably in the receiving waters.

There are also concerns the rules leave plant operators in charge of monitoring, what Ross called a "fox in the hen house" situation.

Metro Vancouver plans to spend $1.4 billion to upgrade its Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants to more advanced secondary treatment over the next two decades to comply with the new federal standards.

But the inquiry also heard doubts over whether the Annacis Island treatment plant – considered the region's most advanced – used the best design when it was upgraded several years ago.

It uses a trickling filter system that Ashley said is far inferior to an activated sludge design in removing many endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The Lower Mainland isn't the only problem area for contamination.

Ninety different sewage treatment systems discharge into the Fraser as well as pulp mills and other sources of industrial effluent. Still more sources discharge from other shores of the Strait of Georgia.

Monitoring of toxins in local waters has declined, the inquiry heard, since DFO in 2005 dismantled its contaminants research program.

It was assumed Environment Canada would take up that work, but that never happened, leaving some DFO researchers to fundraise to carry on independently.

Panelists lauded past efforts by various agencies to reduce the amounts of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and detergents going down the drains, but said more public awareness is needed.

The scientists also expressed concern about raw sewage releases when older combined storm/sanitary sewers in Vancouver and New Westminster are overwhelmed by heavy rainfalls.

The Cohen commission was named after the collapse of the 2009 sockeye run, when just over a million fish returned, about a tenth the expected number.


ARESST: Report by Bruno below "fingers" Clover & Macaulay outfalls as well as the Vancouver outfalls even though 2010 sockeye run was big.


Evidentiary Hearing
June 14, 2011

Room 801, Federal Courthouse,
701 West Georgia St.,
Vancouver, BC

Morning Session: 10:00AM - 12:30PM
Afternoon Session: 2:00PM - 4:00PM


Effects on the Fraser River Watershed - Municipal Wastewater


  • Dr. Ken Ashley (Instructor, BCIT; Adjunct Professor, UBC; Senior Scientist, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants)
  • Dr. Peter Ross (Institute of Ocean Sciences, DFO)
  • Graham van Aggelen (Pacific Environmental Science Centre, Environment Canada)
  • James Arnott (Manager, Wastewater Section, Public and Resources Sectors Directorate, Environmental Stewards Branch, Environment Canada)
  • Dr. Albert van Roodselaar (Division Manager, Utility Planning and Environmental Management, Metro Vancouver)

Exhibit List



Curriculum Vitae of Ken Ashley
This file is not available at this time.











Evidentiary Hearing
June 15, 2011

Room 801, Federal Courthouse,
701 West Georgia St.,
Vancouver, BC

Morning Session: 10:00AM - 12:30PM
Afternoon Session: 2:00PM - 4:00PM


Effects on the Fraser River Watershed - Municipal Wastewater


  • James Arnott (Manager, Wastewater Section, Public and Resources Sectors Directorate, Environmental Stewards Branch, Environment Canada)
  • Dr. Albert van Roodselaar (Division Manager, Utility Planning and Environmental Management, Metro Vancouver)

Exhibit List


















Stefan Morales
Dogwood Initiative Blog
Jun 09, 2011

The Capital Regional District (CRD) is stuck between a rock and a hard place. By seeking alternatives to disposing sewage sludge into the Juan de Fuca strait, the question arises: what else do we do with it?

An answer that seems to appear throughout North America is to “treat” sewage waste, rename it biosolids and spread it on land as a “soil amendment.” At first glance, this may appear to be an environmentally sound approach. Rather than treat sewage sludge as waste, why not recycle it and turn it into a resource? 

If only things could be so simple. 

I first learned about using human waste as a fertilizer while living in rural Nova Scotia, and initially thought it was a great idea. I was doing research at Acadia University,  exploring the degree to which the history of western agriculture has been characterized by a “scorched earth” policy: harvest as many nutrients from the soil as possible and either move on once the land has become exhausted, or become dependent on oil-intensive synthetic fertilizers. After studying traditional agriculture in Southeast Asia (where the same land had been farmed for thousands of years), I began to appreciate that human waste was considered a valuable fertilizer. The “night soil” of town and city residents was collected and transported to the countryside to fertilize the soil — in fact, human waste was so valuable that the collectors often paid residents for it.

As a result of my research, I was reluctant to believe Nova Scotia activists in their quest to ban biosolids. I thought: “Given that humans are animals, our waste is manure like any other animals’ so why would we keep this valuable source of fertility from our lands? Why continue to remain dependent on synthetic fertilizers or difficult-to-source animal manures while dumping valuable nutrients into ocean ecosystems?” I decided to research the issue further to find out why my friends at the Nova Scotia Environmental Network and at the local agricultural college were so at odds with each other on this issue. After looking into it, it became clear to me that biosolids and “night soil” were far from the same thing.

Our sewage system was built to collect almost everything that goes down the drain, which creates a dangerous cocktail of domestic, commercial, hospital, industry and street run-off sources of sewage and septic sludges. As a result of this diverse array of sources, it is very difficult to separate  harmful toxins from useful soil amendments. This broke the link in my mind between biosolids and “night soil.”' While human waste is a viable source of fertilizer on its own, it must be remembered that biosolids is human waste mixed with whatever else happened to find its way into the sewer.

What was difficult to accept was that there is no simple way to separate the good from the bad. “Treating” biosolids involves adding more toxins to the mix to remove pathogens, but you can't treat the 60,000 other pollutants that find their way into the end product. It seemed that the organic farmers and environmental activists of Nova Scotia were right: biosolids solved the city's waste management problems, but in the process threatened the environmental health and well-being of the countryside.

In fact, biosolids pose a significant threat to human health. Throughout North America, the land application of biosolids has led to health problems, and in some extreme cases death, for those living on or near an application site. There are at least 21 known carcinogens, 30 heavy metals, flame retardants, steroids, hormones and so on, all adding up to around 60,000 chemical substances and pollutants to be found in biosolids.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they also threaten the health of our region’s soil. Toxins enter the groundwater, drain into surrounding farms, are carried by animal and human foot traffic and can be carried by wind. Biosolids have a habit of both sticking around and being incredibly mobile at the same time.

Biosolids are sewage sludge; they’ve simply been renamed and reclassified — renamed because sludge just doesn't have the same eco-friendly ring to it as bio-solids, reclassified because sewage sludge was once classified as toxic waste. 

This is greenwashing at its worst. 

Here in the CRD, we need an alternative to dumping sewage sludge into the ocean, but the land application of biosolids is most certainly not it. Until we mature enough as a culture to stop dumping harmful toxins down the drain (whether in our homes or at the industrial level), sewage waste will be toxic sludge. Until that day comes, small-scale domestic solutions such as composting toilets or alternative uses for biosolids, such as the CRD's current proposal to use them as a coal substitute in cement kilns, seem more palatable.

- Stefan Morales is co-director of the Wayward School and is also a researcher, artist, writer and educator currently living in Victoria, British Columbia. His recent work has centered around political theory and political ecology. He has both worked and studied soil as an amateur gardener and an MA student at Acadia University in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. You can find more of his writing here.


Morales may have some reason for opposing the agricultural application of CRD sewage sludge but he should also review the most important issues about the CRD's sewage sludge-producing land-based sewage treatment project: 

1. The CRD's current marine-based sewage treatment produces NO sewage sludge and very little greenhouse gases, unlike land-based sewage treatment systems.

2. The dispersal and degradation of CRD sewage effluent in Juan de Fuca Strait meets current CRD guidelines and according to several oceanographers, public health doctors and engineers, is a very satisfactory approach to sewage treatment. These professionals do note that Victoria's marine geography and type of sewage effluent makes this a rare case. See links below for references. 

3. The CRD sewage effluent collection system does NOT include storm water runoff from any of the streets, but many of the storm water drains at the marine shoreline areas have been confirmed to be environmental and/or health hazards (unlike our two long screened sewage outfalls). The billion-dollar to build and $15 million a year to operate land-based sewage plant will do NOTHING to reduce the much more critical storm drain outflow of toxins. See a map of the CRD's problem storm drains: 

4. Recently, a CRD Director questioned the logic for the need for additional, land-based sewage treatment, given the CRD's defence of the continued use of sewage sludge biosolids as the fertilizer PenGrow, saying if the CRD thought PenGrow was safe, why was the sewage effluent not also deemed to be safe? Excellent point! One response is that the effluent dispersal and degradation in the Strait avoids the concentration of heavy metals and other persistant chemicals that are found in the dewatered sludge. 

For more information on the problems with the CRD's land-based sewage treatment proposal: