October 17, 2011

ELECTION 2011: WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND- Sewage: Still divisive? (used photo showing a storm drain outlet, not sanitary sewage!)
LETTER: WHY NOT ISLAND SEWAGE TREATMENT? (Bates - referring to Chatham Islands)


ARESST: Photo that accompanies article below suggests that reporters Westad and Cleverley still managed to get CRD storm drainage system confused with CRD sewage system! I've sent them my photo of the beautiful Clover Point sewage pump station. 


We asked readers what the top issues are for municipal voters. Here's what they said
Kim Westad and Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist
October 16, 2011

The municipal elections are just over a month away and candidates are hitting the hustings. So it seemed a good time for Times Colonist readers to let the council wannabes know what issues are on their minds.

We asked for reader thoughts and suggestions on top issues they'd like candidates to address.

The top issue didn't surprise political experts, but it might the politicians who say there's no appetite for it: amalgamation of the region and of the seven police forces.

It was the issue most brought up by readers, many of whom feel strongly on the topic.

"Whatever the issues are, they cannot be addressed or resolved in isolation among 13 villages, all at cross-purposes with each other," wrote Carol Davis of Pender Island and Victoria.

Wrote Jennifer Sutton: "Stop all the power struggles and get on with doing what is best for the people of Greater Victoria."

Secondary sewage treatment continues to be a concern for people. Many readers were opposed to the secondary treatment mandated by the provincial government, some in favour and numerous readers want politicians to explain it more fully and state their opinion on the contentious $782-million project.

For a look at five issues on voters' minds, please see pages D6 and D7.

And if you'd like to tell us your key issues, please email election@timescolonist.com

Election 2011: What issues are on the minds of voters?

Sewage treatment excerpt: 
Sewage: Still divisive

Times Colonist
October 16, 2011

It has been five years since the provincial government ordered the Capital Regional District to provide secondary sewage treatment, but the issue remains as divisive today as it was then.

Much of the region has discharged its screened sewage - the waste goes through six-millimetre screens - via pipes into the ocean for decades. Many high-profile engineers, politicians and scientists support the method, continuing to argue against further treatment.

They say that the water's unique marine environment disperses the effluent in a way that is not harmful to the environment.

The province mandated that secondary sewage treatment be in place for the region by 2016. The CRD has responded by spending at least $24 million in research on matters such as finding the best model, where treatment plants should be sited, and how and where sediment left after treatment should be dealt with.

But even with years of work and the expense of taxpayer dollars, the project remains in limbo. The $782-million project - originally estimated at $1.2 billion until the CRD shaved costs - is to be funded jointly by the provincial, federal and regional governments. The problem is that the province says the feds have to commit to the funding in writing before it will do the same. The federal government and the CRD say the understanding and practice has long been that the province commits first.

As for the 2016 deadline, the CRD says with the funding impasse, it will not be able to meet the target. The situation has some arguing for the project to be shelved. That is unlikely, given that federal government regulations also call for a change in treatment by 2020.

Voters still have strong opinions on the issue, though, and many just want to hear politicians say where they stand on the issue and how a huge chunk of public money is being spent.

Some reader comments:

"Cancel the incredibly expensive and scientist-discounted sewage scheme." - David Whitten

"Sewage [is] a boondoggle in the making." - Richard Atwell

"Not necessary, poorly planned and $1 billion wasted." - Jack Littlepage

"The question is how we manage our sewage treatment dollars. Which is the best solution for us as a community? I have not heard much reasoning from any side in this regard." - Tim England

"There is a great deal of information to sort through from both sides on the issue. Of course, I want all waste management to be effective and responsible; I want to leave a healthy planet for future generations. I was hoping to hear how the candidates plan on doing just that."
- Ginny Thomson

"Leave it as is please! 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' The science is there ... please, please, please listen to reason and fight (the province and federal government) on this one." - Jennifer Sutton



Why not use Chatham Islands as a sewage treatment centre? You could build a wall so it would not be seen from shore and the smell would not bother anyone. Methane gas could be reclaimed and sold.

Tom Bates


Richard Brunt
Times Colonist
October 16, 2011

Overlooked in the ongoing sewage treatment debate is a simple, low cost and environmentally friendly solution - composting toilets. It is absurd to flush away gallons of pure drinking water every time we use a toilet, creating gallons of sewage that need expensive treatment.

Modern composting toilets produce fertilizer instead of raw sewage or toxic sludge. They are virtually maintenance free and, contrary to popular belief, do not stink. They are being used with complete success at UBC and in thousands of homes and businesses worldwide - especially in Europe. It is well developed, proven technology.

The best part is composting toilets would not cost the taxpayer $800 million up front and $500 annually per household in perpetuity. They can usually be installed for well under $2,000 per toilet.

Why not give eco-conscious Victorians the choice to opt out of the insanely expensive sewage treatment boondoggle and install a composting toilet? If someone wants to hook up to the sewer let them pay for it.

Richard Brunt



Jeff Nagel
BC Local News (Vancouver only)
October 14, 2011 

Taxpayers from all over Metro Vancouver may be forced to help pay a huge bill to rebuild the sewage treatment plants that serve Vancouver and the North Shore.

Those cities are supposed to cover more than half of the expected $1.4-billion cost of upgrading the Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants that serve their residents.

But Metro Vancouver chief financial officer Jim Rusnak told a recent budget meeting the region may change the existing formula to create a single sewerage area – effectively making all areas pay equally for the upgrades to secondary treatment.

That would soften the hit to taxpayers in Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver but make property owners everywhere else pay more.

Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt warns it could jack annual sewage fees by perhaps $200 per home in areas like Surrey, Langley and the northeast sector.

"It's just not fair," Hunt said, adding he hopes an internal review by regional administrators will torpedo the idea.

"Otherwise you will hear an awful lot of screaming from South of the Fraser and it will be a very uncomfortable process at Metro."

Hunt said the North Shore is understandably alarmed about the sewer upgrade bill, which threatens to add $1,000 to the annual fees each household pays unless Ottawa and Victoria step in with big cost-sharing grants.

But he said the current formula set in 1996 forced areas like Surrey – which uses Metro's Annacis Island treatment plant – to pay the bulk of the costs when Annacis was upgraded.

"If it was fair then, it's fair now," Hunt said of the formula. "The guys who are hurting are screaming. The rest of us are saying 'What's the problem? You made us pay for it – yell at the federal government.'"

Even with no change in the formula, around 45 per cent of the upgrade cost would be spread across the region. As a result, sewer bills are projected to climb as much as 300 per cent over the next 20 years in areas like Surrey, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.

North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto is pressing the province and the federal government to each shoulder one third of the costs.

But he doubts the Metro cost-sharing formula can be rejigged to force non-benefitting cities to pay more.

"I don't think that's going to fly," Mussatto said. "They had to pay a lot for theirs. We can't now say they should pay for ours as well. We can't change the rules half way through the game."

But he said the debate underscores how critical the issue is for taxpayers.

"This is a huge cost driver for the region," he said, adding there's so far no guarantee Metro will get any grants.

Mussatto has proposed Metro delay up to $12 million in design work set to start next year for the Lions Gate plant in hopes Ottawa and Victoria might stump up some money for that initial phase.

Metro must choose next year whether to build a bare bones Lions Gate replacement or spend even more for one that's more environmentally advanced.

Getting senior government grants may depend on the new plant being built as a public-private partnership.

The region's new Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan also commits Metro to treat sewage as more of a resource, from which nutrients, energy and water should be reclaimed.

The plan requires Metro rebuild the Lions Gate sewage plant by 2020 and its Iona plant by 2030, ensuring more advanced secondary treatment of sewage now discharged to the ocean with only basic treatment.

New federal and provincial regulations also require the upgrades to reduce pollution.

Environmental groups have repeatedly alleged Iona and Lions Gate effluent kills fish, in violation of the Fisheries Act.

Iona serves Vancouver, Sea Island and the northwest corner of Burnaby, while all other points east and south in the region are served by either the Annacis Island, Lulu Island or Northwest Langley treatment plants, all of which already use secondary treatment.



Tracing the influence of sewage discharge on coastal bays of Southern Vancouver Island (BC, Canada) using sedimentary records of phytoplankton

Alanna Krepakevich, Vera Pospelova
School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, 
University of Victoria

Journal of Continental Shelf Research, 30 (2010) 1924-1940

The impact of sewage and stormwater effluents on phytoplankton is investigated by comparing organic-walled dinoflagellate cyst abundance and diversity from 38 surface sediment samples, flanking southern Vancouver Island. Site locations include those directly adjacent to wastewater outfall at Clover and Macaulay Points and Saanich Peninsula, as well as from a variety of near-shore environments with differing tidal flow influences. 

Excellently preserved dinoflagellate cyst assemblages have been recovered and 36 cyst taxa were identified. Local assemblages are characterized by a high relative proportion (average 56%) of cysts produced by heterotrophic dinoflagellates, which is typical for regions of high primary production. 

Relative proportional increases of cysts from heterotrophic species with particular increases of Polykrikos kofoidii/schwartzii and Dubridinium species, known to reflect areas affected by eutrophication, occur directly adjacent to all three sewage outfalls, as well as in the more stagnant waters of Esquimalt and Victoria Harbours and at the mouth of Cadboro Bay. 

Further effects of an anthropogenic effluent can be seen in the relatively higher concentrations of organic carbon and the diatom production proxy, biogenic opal. Results from this study clearly indicate a much larger impact zone than predicted by a sewage effluent plume model or trends found in monitored benthic biota and sediment chemistry that evidence primary outfall affects to 800 m eastward of Macaulay Point and about 200 m eastward of the Clover Point. 

Enhanced production of cysts from potentially toxic Alexandrium species is also observed near locations of sewage outfalls.

Complete article: