October 8, 2011


** - $782-MILLION SEWAGE FIX LEFT IN LIMBO (not a "fix"!)**


=====================ARESST AGM===================

                  Thursday, NOVEMBER 3rd, 2011 at 7PM 
Denson Lounge at St John the Divine, 1611 Quadra Street
                           (same place as last year) 

                          speaker to be announced
                     PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

ARESST: Note reporters' choice of words "fix", "completion", "more advanced treatment"

At least they say discharged and not dumped!


Treatment system falls two years behind as B.C., Ottawa play waiting game
Kim Westad And Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
October 07, 2011

Completion of the region's sewage treatment system will be at least two years behind schedule because the provincial government has not committed in writing to funding the $782-million project that it ordered.

The province now says that the federal government must commit to funding the project before it steps in, a change in policy that worries several members of the Capital Regional District board.

Ida Chong, whose Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is responsible for finding the money for the sewage project, said Thursday that she won't put aside a specific amount, or even promise it in writing, until the federal government has put its money on the table.

"What we're all trying to do is nail down that [federal] level of government and know that's secure, and know the CRD is secure, then I will need to make my pitch to Treasury Board," she said in an interview.

Chong said she's "presuming by the end of this year" Ottawa may have all its funding in place and the province can start to move.

That leaves one of the largest and most controversial projects in the region sitting in limbo, with CRD staff who worked full time on it for years reassigned to other projects as the region waits for funding.

Former premier Gordon Campbell committed to one-third funding from the province in 2006, when the province mandated that the region provide secondary sewage treatment.

Currently, sewage is discharged into the ocean after going through screening.

The more advanced treatment was to be in place by 2016, but the wait for funding has put it back to 2018, said Jack Hull, who manages the project for the CRD.

Chong's comments are a change from what the CRD has been told from the start, and contrary to clear information from the federal government a year ago, said Judy Brownoff, former chairwoman of the region's sewage committee.

"The province put us on very tight timelines to have our treatment plan in.

"Now, almost a year after delivering that plan - which they approved - we get this very different message. I'm shocked, actually."

Chong said the reason is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised a one-third federal share before Campbell, and so Ottawa must move first to cover its share.

CRD chairman Geoff Young is concerned that without the province's written commitment, federal infrastructure funds earmarked for the project will go elsewhere.

A federal fund the CRD has applied under would cover 25 per cent of the project, eight per cent short of Ottawa's 33 per cent share.

"What if we are eight per cent short?" said Chong.

"Who is going to kick that up?" The province must also make sure whatever money it allocates, over however many years, doesn't hurt its bottom line financial position, said Chong.

The government has a budget deficit and is worried about the effects of a slumping worldwide economy.

It's slashing costs to try to find $1.6 billion it must repay Ottawa after the harmonized sales tax was rejected in the August referendum.

Premier Christy Clark has said any future capital projects will be decided upon based on their economic impact for a community.

Chong said she's optimistic the sewage project would be a high priority.


Kim Westad And Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
October 08, 2011

Senior members of the region's sewage committee worry that "foot dragging" by the province could jeopardize the federal government portion of sewage treatment funding.

If the impression is given that the province is backing off on its commitment to funding a project it mandated be in place by 2016, there could be repercussions for the tourism industry, said Capital Regional District chairman Geoff Young, and former sewage committee chairwoman Judy Brownoff.

Their comments came after Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong said the province will not commit in writing to funding one third of the project until the federal government gives its written commitment.

Chong's ministry is responsible for finding the money for the $782-million secondary sewage treatment project. Its cost is to be shared equally between the CRD, the provincial and federal governments.

Both the province and federal government have given verbal commitments on funding. But each is waiting for the other to go first to put it in writing.

Brownoff and Young said past practice and the agreement for sewage funding is that the province commits in writing first, followed by the federal government.

"If there is an appearance that the provincial government commitment to the project is weakening or worse, reversing, I am very concerned that we would have extremely negative feedback from other parts of Canada and our neighbours in the U.S.," Young said.

The province ordered the CRD to have secondary sewage treatment in place by 2016.

The B.C. government will not back off its order, but is willing to consider a delay, Environment Minister Terry Lake said.

"I understand their concerns," Lake said in an interview. "If they make an application to extend the time because the startup date is later than anticipated, I'm certainly willing to enter into those discussions.

"But we remain committed to the liquid waste management plan, we just need to work with them and the federal government and nail down some of those funding details."

Currently, the region's effluent goes into the ocean via pipes after going through preliminary screening.

The federal government has said 25 per cent of the funding is available from an infrastructure funding program.

Both Young and Brownoff worry that the delay by the province in committing will result in the funding going to other projects.

"I'll be very angry if we lose the federal money because of foot dragging and finger pointing. Taxpayers in this region don't need another letdown," Brownoff said.

The CRD has already spent about $24 million on planning and acquiring property for the project.

It is writing to the province to remind it of its commitment, Young said.

"This is not a decision for the new government to make. This is a decision that has been made already. The decision needed now is implementation," he said.

"I'm hoping this is a glitch that will be smoothed out and a firmer message will come from the province shortly so we can make sure we do have access to the federal funding programs and resume work on actually moving the project forward."

Shaun Peck, a former medical health officer in the region who doesn't see a need for secondary treatment, said delay is positive. It gives more people a chance to realize that the treatment is not needed due to the unique marinereceiving environment that disperses the effluent, Peck said.




ARESST: RSTV analysis of the SETAC report: http://www.rstv.ca/ted-dew-jones-review-of-setac/

Times Colonist
October 08, 2011

Taxpayers should be outraged at the provincial government's mishandling of sewage treatment.

The years ago, that the region begin treating its government demanded, more than five sewage. It set strict deadlines for plans to be in place and said the project could not be delayed.

Now that the work is done, the provincial government has apparently begun to worry about how much the project will cost. It won't commit to funding, or a timeline.

It's a ridiculous way to approach the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in this region, one expected to cost $782 million.

On the strength of the province's demands, some $24 million has been spent on plans and studies. Regional staff have been working full-time on the project. Politicians and citizens have devoted huge amounts of time to planning and public meetings. The schedule ordered by the province raised concerns that major decisions were being rushed.

Still, the plan was completed and accepted by the provincial government a year ago.

Remember, this was all at the demand of the provincial government, which insisted treatment must begin and promised to pay one-third of the costs. Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed the federal government to contribute one-third of the needed money.

Now Community Development Minister Ida Chong says the provincial government won't commit to funding the project. The federal government must put its commitment in writing first, she says, and then she will take a proposal to Treasury Board. The government has to decide if it can afford the project, she says.

This is absurd. The provincial government didn't ask the region to prepare a sewage treatment plan so it could understand the available options. It ordered treatment, and the work was done on that basis.

Concerns about the lack of commitment from the two governments have been raised throughout the process. In April 2009, a Times Colonist editorial warned that "the CRD needs cast-in-stone funding commitments. The regional district cannot build a viable business plan without knowing the size of the system government will ultimately fund."

That has, sadly, proved prescient.

The sewage project has been highly controversial, with disputes about whether it is necessary and questions about costs, methods and locations of treatment facilities. A 2006 scientific panel report made a credible case for treatment, reporting seabed contamination at the two offshore waste outfalls; warning that the sewage plume that rises to the surface on occasion is a health risk to anyone who contacts it; and noting the waste poses an environmental threat.

The debate was effectively ended by the provincial government when it ordered treatment.

It all seems sadly symbolic of the difficulties of getting things done in this region. Sewage treatment has been talked about for 20 years. A decision was finally made and the needed planning was done.

And now the project is stalled, with no timeline and no guarantee the plans won't be outdated when - or if - the province decides on funding.




Dear Friends/Members of Community Associations;
Attached is a clipping from this past weekend’s TC attempting to collect feedback on what our priorities should be for the coming municipal election.
If you have not already done so, would you please jot a quick email to  election@timescolonist.com simply noting your top 5 issues (from TC article above).
This is a chance to keep the regional sewage treatment issue alive. Please include “sewage” as one of your 5 issues if you have concerns about our current plan for land-based secondary treatment. Some of our candidates are prepared to tackle the issue, your feedback may keep the media interested. Even if you do not live in the Greater Victoria municipalities, keep in mind the precious tax dollars going towards this project may defer funding for truly justifiable projects elsewhere in the region/province/country.
Please include the municipality you live in (as requested by TC).
Further information on the specific sewage issue can be accessed from www.aresst.ca or www.rstv.ca or www.smartsewage.webs.com
Please consider passing this request for issue feedback along to other voters (once you have kindly removed the above broadcast email addresses). Hope you enjoy the upcoming all candidate meetings and the election.
Thanks for your time, interest.



Here is a link to the schedule for the All Candidates meeting set for the Saanich Municipal Election



1. ARESST: Attached is Wastewater section excerpt from CRD Strategic Plan that will be introduced at the CRD Board meeting on 12 October.
Also included was a brief note about storm water quality: 

56 locations in the region’s harbours are monitored twice a year for fecal coliform bacteria to determine if there is a possible influence from stormwater-carried contaminants. In 2009, 12 stations had at least one exceedance of a guideline value of 14 colony forming units per 100 mL. In 2010 there were 11 stations with at least one exceedance of the guideline. (Appendix, pdf page 77)

2. ARESST: CRD untreated sewage sludge from Sidney's Bazan Bay sewage plant all goes into Hartland landfill now but CRD wants to use it for fertilizer "capping" of the landfill. However, since CRD passed motion that prohibits "land application" of the sludge, exemptions are being sought. Plans for disposal of the 10 times larger amount of sludge that would be created by a CRD McLoughlin Point sewage plant seem to be still aimed at Vancouver cement kilns:

Excerpt from new report just uploaded to CRD Environmental Sustainability Committee reports site:

A home-use biosolids pilot program (PenGrow product) was implemented in 2006 to distribute PenGrow
to the public from the Hartland landfill recycling area; however, in July 2011, the CRD Board passed a
motion to end the production, storage and distribution of biosolids for land application at all CRD regional
facilities and parks. This terminated the PenGrow residential program for 2011 and possibly the future,
unless the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Commission decides to relocate the operation to another site.

In the long term, the SPLWMP states that any biosolids management opportunities that become available
through the CRD core area wastewater treatment project will be pursued. The core area project has
identified a preferred strategy to use the biosolids as a fuel for a cement kiln and/or to power a waste-to-
energy facility.

Over the interim, there is a need to identify alternatives to the management of biosolids produced from
the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Treatment Plant (SPWWTP). One such alternative would be to
beneficially use the biosolids as a soil enhancement to the landfill capping material at the Hartland landfill.