September 14, 2011

CALWMC MEETS 14 SEPTEMBER (no sewage plant discussion)




5. EPT 11-58 Regional Source Control Program – 2010 Annual Report and Five-Year Implementation Plan (2011-2015)

6. EEP 11-57 Trucked Liquid Waste - 2010 Annual Report 

Next meeting 12 October


Sludgewatch Admin:

In Victoria BC, the sewage is filtered and piped out into the ocean.

There is a fairly strong contingent who argue that it doesn't make sense to build a sewage treatment plant.
They look at the impact of the wastewater effluent, the issue of sludge management, and the huge cost, and make the case that the current sewage management is more sustainable than treating the sewage in a conventional wastewater treatment plant.

There were once plans for several decentralized wastewater treatment plants for Victoria, but these were set aside when the Province of British columbia pulled up the deadline for sewage treatment.

Many people may be surprised to hear the argument put forward by the former Medical Officer of Health, below.



For the second year in a row, SkyRocket, the BC sludge based compost has failed to meet the metals and/or pathogen reduction requirements for sale to the public.  This material is promoted for use in vegetable gardens, so the fact that it has be blended to average down the toxic metals levels is disturbing. Also disturbing is the repeated failure to meet the bacteria tests, since home garden use of this sludge compost puts it in the path of children, pets, and high risk foods like raw greens and herbs. Even if a batch finally meets the standards for sale to the public, there is the risk of regrowth of bacteria in the finished compost - again putting users at risk of disease. There has been a history of compliance problems with sludge based fertilizer in Canada

National Post 2002 excerpt:

"Federal records also point to problems with microbial contamination of fertilizers and composts made from human sewage, animal manure and food waste. These fertilizers are sold across the country. The records show 18% of fertilizers or composts tested last year were in violation of federal limits for microbial contamination. "Just imagine if you spread that stuff on your lawn and then a little kid goes by and picks it up and chews on it," said Dr. Coleman Rotstein, president of the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society. Inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which enforces the Fertilizers Act, tested 55 fertilizers and composts. Of 21 tested for fecal coliforms, 24% had levels above the allowable limit of 1,000 fecal coliforms per gram of compost or fertilizer. And 15% of 34 fertilizers tested for salmonella were over the limit set for that bacterium, which is three salmonella for every four grams of fertilizer or compost.
Fecal coliforms and salmonella are considered "indicator" species because they are such hardy microbes. If they survive sewage treatment and composting processes, so might more serious pathogens. CFIA officials refuse to identify the "non-compliant" fertilizers and compost. And they will provide no details on how high the bacterial counts were. Nor are they keen to discuss whether more monitoring is needed given the 18% non-compliance rate. "I'd prefer not to comment on that," says Dr. Kate Billingsley, acting national manager of the CFIA's fertilizer section.
Dr. Billingsley says there is a "negative bias" in the statistics because inspectors target material they suspect might have problems. She said non-compliant products are held back and returned to their producer for further treatment or disposal. If they come from outside the country, she says, they are sent back. Some fertilizers, such as Milogranite, are produced from the sewage sludge of U.S. cities."


Philip Round, 
Comox Valley Echo 
September 6, 2011

Many gardeners in the Comox Valley swear by locally made SkyRocket for the way it boosts plant growth.

But this year not a single barrow load of the material has yet been sold, despite tons of it being churned out from the composting plant on Bevan Road in Cumberland.

Supplies have been held back because samples taken from the stockpiles this year have not yet passed all the 'Class A' provincial requirements for recycled organic matter - the toughest level.

And the Comox Valley Regional District, which runs the composting operation, is not prepared to release any of the material until stocks have been given the stamp of approval.But staff are optimistic the issues will soon be resolved and are pretty confident sales will resume this fall.

SkyRocket is made from a mixture of fine wood chips and superheated biosolids - treated sewage - to get rid of any pathogens.

It first went on sale six years ago and has been extensively used not only in local gardens but also for major landscaping projects across Vancouver Island.

This is the second time supplies have been halted for an extended period because of testing issues - the same happened last year, but the interruption in supplies then lasted only four months.

When supplies sold out in the early fall of 2010, the composting facility kept going, producing long windrows of material in readiness for the launch of the 2011 spring marketing drive.

But this year no SkyRocket at all has yet been put on the market pending acceptable test results, but production has not stopped.

"We continue to produce SkyRocket following the same method used in previous years," said regional district spokesperson Leigh Carter.

"We have increased the amount of wood that we add to try and affect the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. It is possible that this is having an impact on the composting process, and having an impact on our test results."

Carter said it was anticipated there would be successful test results later this fall, but until they were certain no material would be made available to customers.

"We have not yet reached the stage in the process where we meet all the Organic Material Recycling Regulations and Canadian Food Inspection Agency requirements," she confirmed.

She added: "We are not rethinking the product or 'recipe' - we continue to use the same process that has been successful in the past."

She said the windrows - long piles of SkyRocket stored on land close to the building where it is produced - continue to actively compost while being stored.

While the hold on sales has meant no income has been received this year to help offset production costs, the stockpiles of SkyRocket are seen as an asset for future disposal assuming positive test results are eventually received.

To meet all requirements, regular SkyRocket samples have to pass a number of tests, including micro-biological analysis for coliform bacteria and pathogens as well as other tests for metals - including lead, mercury, chromium and copper - and for its moisture, nutrient and pH (acidity) values.

Last year, the problem was that a single sample failed to pass one of the metal tests, so a mass mixing had to take place to dilute the reading to the acceptable level.

That is not the issue this year. Rather, the five-stage composting process failed to destroy all the bacteria in the usual timeframe, said Marc Rutten, the regional district's manager of engineering services.

That meant the material has to be turned and left to compost at the right temperatures for a longer period to be certain everything was killed off.

"If we don't ensure that, it's a showstopper," he said. "That wasn't a problem last year, but it was in some sampling this year."

But, said Rutten, that issue had now been completely resolved and bacteria was no longer a problem in the stocks they had created.

They had now moved forward to the metals sampling stage and the results from those tests are expected very soon.

"It's not that we've actually failed the tests, just that we haven't yet reached the point where the mark has been reached. People may think this is a play on words, but it's not."


ARESST: Chamber wants LRT referendum, but so far, no mention of wanting a sewage plant referendum!

Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist
September 14, 2011

The idea of new, $1-billion light rail transit system for Greater Victoria should go to referendum, says Victoria Regional Transit Commission chairman Christopher Causton.

"I think it's a question, in my mind, that should go to the public but this commission has not had that discussion," Causton said.

Causton said residents should have an opportunity to vote on a new light rail transit system even if it is decided to fund it by means other than property taxes, such as through a gas levy.

"I think it's a question on: 'Do you want to do this?' - a referendum-styled question, whether the property taxpayer is directly involved or indirectly involved," he said.

Causton made the comments after representatives of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce spoke to transit commissioners. They called for an independent third-party review of any LRT proposal to private equity standards before it proceeds, a referendum on project expenditures, creation of a regional transportation authority and interim measures until a new rapid transit system is in place.

Chamber chief executive Bruce Carter said a referendum is a must.

"If this [LRT] is to be funded primarily out of property taxes, a regional referendum is the only mechanism we can identify to adequately gain the assent of taxpayers," Carter said. "Regardless of the method of funding, ... the taxpayer must be consulted," he said.

Causton said there is support at the commission for creation of a new transportation authority.

"We have around this table talked about the fact that the old commission talked about routes and rates, basically, and that was it. I don't think anyone around here is comfortable putting their signatures on a $1-billion project with the representation we've got here," he said.

B.C. Transit president Manuel Achadinha told commissioners an extensive third party review would be part of phase two in the project's three phases of development, should it move to that stage.

"There's three phases to the project. We've done phase one which is the business report and that's the $3.1 million we've spent to date," Achadinha said.

Before moving to phase two, the Capital Regional District and B.C. Transit have to complete a funding strategy report to determine what local governments can afford.

"This will identify all the different options - gas tax, property tax, whatever the options will be - and then come up with what is the local number we can afford," Achadinha said.

Phase two, which will cost about $5 million, develops a detailed business case including accounting, and legal and engineering elements, as well as an independent review, he said. Phase three is construction.

The province is still to complete its review of phase one and there would be no point in moving to the next phase if the provincial review doesn't find it's merited, he said.