- THERE'S STILL TIME TO REVIEW OUR SEWAGE OPTIONS (Peck)
- LRT TAX INCREASE WOULD HIT LOW-INCOME (sewage mention)
- LRT BRINGS HIGH COST FOR LITTLE BENEFIT (sewage mention)
THERE'S STILL TIME TO REVIEW OUR SEWAGE OPTIONS (Shaun Peck)
Environmental, sustainability issues et to be answered for megaproject
September 08, 2011
Many people in Victoria think that building land-based sewage treatment for the core municipalities is a done deal.
However, the reality is that there will be more delays in planning. There is still time to review whether there will be any environmental benefit from building these plants.
In November 2010, the Capital Regional District submitted a "business case" to the province for funding approval. This approval has not yet been obtained. Now, with further provincial financial uncertainty after the commitment to cancel the harmonized sales tax, there will likely be further delays.
The plan submitted was for a treatment plant at McLoughlin Point at the Victoria Harbour entrance. The preliminary estimate for this is $782 million onetime capital costs and $14.5 million in annual operating costs.
The capital costs (apart from land costs) are expected to be cost-shared, one-third each, with the federal and provincial governments. In most of the municipalities, homeowners will be billed on household utility bills based on water consumption, rather than on annual property taxes.
Why the planning delays? Apart from the business case approval, the CRD has been exploring whether a site closer to the treatment plant can be obtained to treat the sludge, eliminating the need to build an 18-kilometre double pipe to the Hartland landfill.
There has been no public information about these plans. Public consultations are expected with any neighbours who may be affected by a plant at an alternative site.
The CRD has ruled out applying sewage sludge to the land. The current plan is to use a great deal of energy to dry the liquid sludge from the treatment plant at the Hartland landfill and transport it for burning in a lime kiln in the Vancouver area.
This needs to be questioned. It is said that carbon offsets may be obtained for this measure, but carbon offsets should be obtained for reducing existing emissions. It is also said that offsetting revenue may be obtained, but this is an optimistic illusion that may not materialize.
The federal government plans to introduce regulations that require all municipalities to plan for secondary sewage treatment. This is based on "one size fits all" thinking and does not acknowledge that for some receiving environments, like the waters off Victoria, it may be inappropriate.
Victoria's sewage is screened and discharged through two 60-metre deep outfalls, with long diffusers, into tidal marine water.
Within 100 metres of the outfall, measurements have shown the effluent quality to be as good as that obtained through a secondary sewage treatment plant.
In the judgment of more than 10 marine scientists and six current and former medical health officers, there is a minimal effect on the marine environment with the present discharges at Macaulay and Clover points and no measurable public health risk.
However, it appears that the regulators - the province and the federal government - are ignoring these judgments, provided after a careful review of the facts.
Even the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry report of 2006 concluded there will be no measurable benefit to the marine environment from building sewage treatment plants for Victoria.
If the overall environment is considered, building these plants will have a harmful effect because of the need to dispose of the toxic sludge and the use of large amounts of energy that will contribute to air pollution.
A recent Times Colonist editorial called for an outside review of the proposed light-rail project. This project will undoubtedly benefit the environment, human health and communities.
There is an even greater need for a fresh look at the proposed $782-million sewage treatment plans to examine whether there will be any benefit from this vast expenditure. It is not yet a done deal. Is it really the right thing to do from an ecological and a sustainability perspective?
The good news is that there is still time to take a second look and have a review by a Canadian independent science organization such as the The Royal Society of Canada. What needs to be independently examined is whether there will be any environmental or public health benefit and what will be the impact on the overall environment.
- Dr. Shaun Peck was the medical health officer for the CRD from 1989 to 1995.
LRT TAX INCREASE WOULD HIT LOW-INCOME (sewage mention)
September 06, 2011
Unmentioned or perhaps forgotten in the debate about light rail transit are the renters and lower-income individuals and families.
The province will have no choice but to allow landlords to increase rents over and above the statutory limit to offset the significant tax impact. Coupled with sewage treatment, this is going to cause many hardships.
Secondly, there are going to be so few, relatively speaking, that will benefit from it. Just as minimal will be the benefits from sewage treatment.
Both of these expenditures, because of the significance of their tax implications should go to a public referendum, just as we took the HST to public referendum because of its tax implications.
We could do it at the same time as the upcoming civic elections. It would save a whole ton of money.
LRT BRINGS HIGH COST FOR LITTLE BENEFIT (sewage mention)
September 07, 2011
Re: "See the success of LRT systems," Sept. 3.
The letter cites the success of rail transit in San Diego, Sacramento and Portland. All three are significantly larger than Victoria and are ribboned with multi-lane expressways.
The LRT proposal is another example of "feel good" initiatives, like sewage treatment, that will cost taxpayers a lot of money for little gain. The solutions for area traffic woes include a McKenzie interchange, bus lanes and making good use of the E&N corridor.