November 15, 2011




ARESST members - if you didn't leave a cheque with treasurer Bob Furber at the AGM, please now send him a  cheque for $20 (and more if you can afford a donation) made out to ARESST and mailed to:

Bob Furber, ARESST Treasurer,
2751 Arbutus Road
Victoria, BC, V8N 5X7

Help support ARESST on our important mission!






The Calgary Eye Opener ---


ARESST: Excerpt from article linked below: 

13. Promote tourism, open Sewage Treatment Plant and Spa.

- As a councillor, what should consume more of your time and energy:

A) A $782-million sewage treatment system that might or might not work;
B) A $950-million LRT system that might or might not work;
C) A tribe of itinerant bongo-beaters.


Jack Knox
Times Colonist
November 13, 2011



ARESST: The usual "we were mandated!" spiel from Leonard and Cubberley, but Vic Derman has best response of the lot: 
Sewage, if that occurs, is going to be a huge hit on Saanich taxpayers because it’s hard to find other ways to pay for it.
See other candidates lame responses at:

What will be the best way for Saanich to balance its annual budget while having to find money to pay for large-ticket items such as sewage and light rail?

Kyle Slavin
Saanich News
November 10, 2011 

With uncertainty surrounding how much – if any – money will come from senior levels of government to pay for infrastructure upgrades that come with billion-dollar price tags, the mayoral candidates propose different approaches to foot the portion Saanich will be expected to pay.

Incumbent mayor Frank Leonard says creating a longer-term, multi-year fiscal plan must be created to respect taxpayers’ ability to pay for projects like a mandated sewage treatment facility and a proposed light rail system.

“We’ll have to phase in some expenditures. … We do that within our Saanich budget and the same goes for a billion-dollar expenditure,” he said. “We have to do that to see when expenditures can be accommodated.”

Challenger David Cubberley says the reality is that these projects can’t be funded by property taxes alone.

He suggests proportionate billing, based on how much you use a particular service, is the only fair way to pay for the infrastructure upgrades.

“Property taxes don’t capture anyone’s use of the roadway,” he said.

“We have a sewer utility, which creates separate utility billing based on your use of the system. That’s the vehicle for billing charges for this new infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, all departments – except public safety – at municipal hall were asked to trim one per cent off their annual budgets to help keep tax increases to a minimum. It was the third year in a row that a one-per-cent decrease was asked of the departments.

Council candidate Ingrid Ip says more similar cutbacks will be necessary to find money to pay for these projects.

“The best way is to try and cut costs in other areas, including reducing the salaries for councillors,” she said. “I think that we should have curb-side garbage pick-up – that would save money.”

Incumbents Leif Wergeland, Vicki Sanders, Vic Derman and Judy Brownoff say getting creative with ways to find money will be crucial, stressing that cost increases can’t just fall onto property taxes.

“Corporate funding is something that we haven’t been as open to, or cautious of sharing in, but we have to be creative in ways we can still manage to do business, as well as shoulder the burden of sewage treatment and transportation costs,” Sanders said.

Susan Brice, an incumbent, is calling for 50- to 75-year payment plans on the projects, while Dean Murdock acknowledges priorities need to be set right away.

“We need to make sure that, as we move forward, we’re being thoughtful about maintaining the high-quality services that residents expect from Saanich,” the incumbent Murdock said. “It’s not going to be possible to build everything at one time, so we need to stagger those approaches and ensure we’re investing in the services that our residents want.”

Rob Wickson and Nichola Wade say Saanich needs to make better land-use decisions along major corridors that allow for revenues to increase.

Harald Wolf wants to see Saanich make decisions and plans based on more realistic expectations.

“(The public is) constantly pressuring for more services, then complain when they’re expected to pay for them,” he said. “I’m concerned that most planning and improvements are based on growth projections, and I’m not convinced this growth will happen.”

Paul Gerrard says mandated and wanted improvements can’t be made without raising taxes to some degree.

All candidates, however, say municipalities can’t go it alone.

“Hopefully senior levels of government will come up with their share of the money,” Wergeland said.

Both mayoral candidates say they are skilled lobbyists who have proven they can get money from the provincial and federal governments.

“I’m confident that once we know what you’re asking for, I know how to lobby on behalf of Saanich and the region,” Leonard said, having “personally lobbied” for recreation and art centre upgrades for Saanich.

“Someone has to make the right argument and advocate on taxpayers’ interests, and nobody is doing that right now,” Cubberley said.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get. What’s gone on in the last decade in the Capital Region is living proof of that. I can’t guarantee you that I’ll be successful in lobbying the government, but no one can.”

We asked all the candidates how they would pay for new projects that come with huge price tags without burdening taxpayers. Check out all their responses here:


ARESST: Excerpt from article: Sewage treatment is a prime example of how municipalities have little say on regional projects through the Capital Regional District governance model, said incumbent Meagan Brame.


Erin McCracken
Victoria News
November 11, 2011

Tim Morrison held up a blank sheet of paper to the crowd of 300 at the township’s all-candidates meeting Wednesday night.

“That’s exactly what we know about the future of policing for Esquimalt,” he said, zeroing in on the Township's refusal to release its reasons for choosing the RCMP over the Victoria Police Department.

The municipality has said it cannot release a police report it submitted to the province in June due to confidentiality clauses.

Josh Steffler was outraged Esquimalt residents did not have a say in the selection process. "Seven people chose out of 17,000. How is that representative?" he said, adding that a referendum should have been held on the issue.

Regardless of the township's choice, many candidates touted the advantages of regionalized policing.

"Esquimalt and Victoria are fighting for dollars for these services, when they should be spread out throughout all of the four major municipalities (Esquimalt, Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay),” said Bob McKie.

Incumbent Lynda Hundleby said an amalgamated service interests her, though she noted other municipalities have not said they would share those costs, nor has the province initiated change.

The lone voice calling for Esquimalt to operate its own police department, and keep it open 24-7, belonged to Sandra Dixon.

Many candidates said consolidation of select services, such as policing, would serve Esquimalt best, rather than outright regional amalgamation.

Sewage treatment is a prime example of how municipalities have little say on regional projects through the Capital Regional District governance model, said incumbent Meagan Brame.

"Would our streets, parks, homes get the attention our residents want and need?" she said. “How would it affect the great services that we have in our community? Would it spread them too thin?”

"I do hear it's not all about the 'a' word, it's not all about amalgamation," said Dave Hodgins, adding that integration of services could reduce redundancies, increase other service levels and save money.

Consolidation would work in other areas such as standardized building codes and garbage pickup, said David Schinbein, who gained previous experience with municipal amalgamation when he was an Ontario councillor.

“The key I think is that it’s done in an economic way,” he said.

Candidates' answers to questions will be posted at



Seattle and King County propose spending more than $1.3 billion on combined sewer overflows, raising rates that already are among the highest in the country. Yet it will make little difference to the water quality of Puget Sound.

Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times
9 November 2011

Seattle and King County are poised to spend more than $1.3 billion of ratepayer money on pollution-cleanup programs that won't even move the water-quality needle in Puget Sound.

The programs are intended to contain so-called combined sewer overflows (CSOs). An occasional source of pollution, CSO discharges occur primarily during heavy rains. Stormwater mixes with wastewater, including raw sewage, and overflows through outfall pipes to local water bodies, and eventually to Puget Sound.

But surface runoff, not CSO discharge, is the single largest source of pollution to Puget Sound, according to the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency charged with cleaning up and restoring Puget Sound, and the state Department of Ecology (DOE). Carrying contaminants such as copper, zinc, oil, lawn fertilizers and animal waste, surface runoff barrels untreated from storm drains all over the city into Puget Sound, not just in heavy storms but nearly every time it rains.

The city and county already have spent hundreds of millions of dollars containing CSO discharges, and have greatly reduced their effect. Today, in the partnership's Action Agenda for Puget Sound, CSOs don't rank in the top 10 or even the top 20 things to do to reduce water pollution in Puget Sound.

Projects planned by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will raise utility rates — already among the highest in the country — $7.41 a month over the next 14 years to complete the city's $500 million CSO program.

Meanwhile, King County has just raised its cost estimate for nine new planned CSO projects — which go to the County Council this fall — to $711 million, up 75 percent since its last estimate for the work in 1999. More projects in the works have ballooned in cost to $103 million from an estimated $36 million in 1999.

Some question whether it makes sense to spend so much more on CSOs, when Puget Sound faces bigger problems.

"It's time to call the question," said Pam Bissonnette, former director of Natural Resources and Parks for King County, and now a private environmental consultant.

"You could take probably half the money we are spending on the CSO program, and go upstream and correct stormwater problems and have a bigger impact on the (Duwamish) river and water quality than the CSO program. We need a cost-benefit analysis, an honest-to-God one, and say, look, this is the highest and best use of that dollar, if the concern is water quality."

Discharges far lower

The amount of CSO discharge entering Puget Sound today is estimated at about 1 billion gallons a year — down from about 30 times that in the 1960s.

To be sure, no one likes the idea of spewing raw sewage or other pollutants into the water, and even small amounts of some pollutants, such as copper, can have a big effect. Local utility administrators say that the Clean Water Act compels them to control pollution. And Christie True, director of King County Natural Resources and Parks, says upcoming CSO projects will prevent localized, short-term exposure to CSO discharges for people swimming, kayaking or playing in the water near an outfall. "We can't ignore local effects."

The goal of CSO control projects in general is to contain the overflow in storage until storms subside and it can be routed to sewage-treatment plants. Other projects reduce the amount of stormwater entering the drainage system, to make overflows less frequent. The projects today continue work that's been under way for a generation.

What is punitively expensive now is driving to the last percentages of improvement. Dozens of combined sewer overflow-control projects are planned all over the city for the next 15 years.

Ray Hoffman, director of Seattle Public Utilities, says he's convinced the $170 million his agency will spend on projects in Lake Washington over the next five years makes sense for a water body without tides and in which pollutants can linger well after storms end.

How many, not how much

Part of what's driving all the proposed new spending is a 1988 Department of Ecology mandate that addresses not the effect of CSO discharges but their frequency.

King County manages 38 CSO outfall pipes and Seattle manages 90 that discharge into Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Duwamish River, Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. The state regulation says governments must get rid of discharges until there is an average of one untreated discharge per year per outfall.

Kevin Clark, from 1987 to 1994, managed what today is Seattle Public Utilities. Clark was involved in discussions to set the state regulation, but he has doubts about it today: "I am all for asking if capturing the last few overflows is the best use of limited public money. We ought to have a big old rousing debate. There is a tremendous amount of money being spent on this. Are we getting the best bang for the buck?"

He offers this example: Just one storage tank in a $52 million CSO project for SPU across from Magnuson Park will control, on average, 4 million to 6 million gallons of overflow in two to three storm events a year — at a cost of $22 million. He said there's nothing magical — or scientific — about the state mandate of one overflow per year per location. "I just wanted something I could explain to the newspapers," he said. "One everywhere was nice and simple."

But Larry Phillips, a member of the County Council who has spent years on water-quality issues, said even if other approaches make sense, wastewater ratepayer dollars available for CSO projects can't be spent on other programs, such as buying habitat or attacking the larger surface-runoff problem.

CSOs and surface runoff are different kinds of dirty water, addressed with different sources of money — and even though it's all headed to Puget Sound, the dollars aren't allowed, under current rules, to follow the pollution.

Launching a big debate about that or Seattle's CSO programs could backfire, Phillips said, noting the Legislature has just turned its back for the third year in a row on a fee to raise $100 million a year for stormwater work. "This is what lets people off the hook, it's 'until you guys get all that resolved, let's not do anything on stormwater.' "

Yet Phillips sees the bigger problem coming: "I am not going to kid myself that doing something on CSOs in the last 5 percent of the effort is going to make a dent in Puget Sound on a basinwide basis. That is going to take a much bigger effort."

The city and county now are negotiating agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Ecology to set targets and deadlines for the county and city CSO programs.

"This is just crazy"

Bill Ruckelshaus, two-time national administrator of the EPA, said job No. 1 is spending money cost-effectively and working with federal and state regulators and cleanup activists to do it. "It takes leadership from the top to say, 'Let's make these things work better.' Even the president has said, 'Let's get rid of regulations that don't make any sense.'

"This is just crazy; we don't have unlimited funds in this country, and whatever we do, we ought to spend where we get the most bang for the buck ... cost-benefit has not been part of the discussion."

Ruckelshaus recently stepped down as chairman of the leadership council of the Puget Sound Partnership, where David Dicks, just reappointed to the leadership council and former executive director, also sees a need for a triaged approach. "What we promoted was panning back and figuring out what makes the best sense," Dicks said. "Spend the money there, and work your way down. This is the perfect example of doing the opposite.

"It's just momentum. And what you learn in these things is you can go in and scream and yell and be a revolutionary for a while, but the institutional momentum of these laws has a lot of power, and it is just dumb power. ... What we need to do is turn off the autopilot and see what makes sense here."

At Ruckelshaus' urging, his agency's Action Agenda for Puget Sound nearly two years ago suggested convening regulators and others to come up with a more cost-effective way to improve water quality in urban areas like Seattle and King County. It hasn't happened yet.

Talk of re-examining priorities got started in 2008 under former King County Executive Ron Sims. Then he and others involved in the discussion went on to other jobs, True said. "The whole thing was just dropped."

Dennis McLerran, administrator of EPA Region 10, said he backs staying the course — and piling on the larger stormwater problem, too. Fixing that, especially in the urban core of Puget Sound, will take a range of strategies, many still emerging, with a potential price tag from $3 billion to $16 billion, according to a recent study for the partnership.

Potent rallying cry, but ...

One reason CSO work has received so much money and political support is the yuck factor: Raw sewage in any amount is reliable for rallying the public to pay higher rates for cleanup programs.

Meanwhile, Puget Sound's broader stormwater problem has been an orphan, without either a ratepayer base to tap for money or an easy, two-word rallying cry — raw sewage — to create a constituency.

Challenging the order of priorities has seemed suspect, said Don Theiler, head of King County's wastewater division from 1997 to 2007.

"When you try to talk about it, it sounds like you are trying to shirk your responsibility," Theiler said. "But to be able to document a real benefit that anyone is experiencing from this CSO work is very difficult. When there are overflows, it is mostly winter, and no one is out there swimming, and in terms of drinking the water, nobody does."

Chuck Clarke used to run SPU, and the EPA Region 10 office before that. When he ran SPU, he was startled to realize how small a piece of the stormwater problem that by now CSO discharges represent. "For me, it's about where do you get the biggest increment of benefit?" Clarke said. "I want to get stuff out of Puget Sound."

Ruckelshaus says he wants a fresh approach to the problem. "Governance is the screaming need here," he said. "We need an intervention. Almost like an alcoholic intervention, with all the people in the room and say look, we don't want to spend this money on things that are of lesser value than things that would otherwise make a lot more progress.

"Maybe it's time to pull everybody together and say, 'This is crazy. Let's fix this.' "

COMMENTS (currently 83):



The American Fisheries Society Washington – British Columbia Chapter, the
Society for Ecological Restoration, Northwest and British Columbia Chapters,
and the University of Victoria – Restoration of Natural Systems Program
invite you to submit symposia ideas for “Beyond Borders,” a joint

This conference will be a gathering of fisheries professionals,
scientists, academics and government agencies involved in ecological
restoration and fisheries issues in our local environment in the
northwestern U.S. and B.C.

The event will be a tremendous opportunity to communicate and network with
people who share your business, academic, and/or non-profit goals in
fisheries and ecological restoration. Attendance is expected to exceed 500

“Beyond Borders” is a four-day event. There will be three full days of
technical talks/symposia and concurrent workshops, and one day of field
trips (Thursday). We welcome all disciplines, including botany, ecology,
fisheries, wildlife, forestry, hydrology, and marine biology, and
expertise representing academics, practitioners, research, and government.
Submit a brief (~500 word) abstract that describes your proposed
symposium. Deadline for symposia submittals is Friday, January 20, 2012.

The symposia list will be posted on the AFS WA-BC Chapter website in early
February 2012.

Registration will open in December 2011.

For more information, please contact Brian Missildine at or phone 360-455-3177.