August 26, 2012


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ARESST: The 24 August email below from Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency confirms that there will be no federal environmental impact assessment of the CRD sewage plant project. With no provincial EIA planned that means no proper EIA of this project at all. Incredible oversight - no comparison with current system, no avenue for official public input of independent experts or the general public. 



Dear Mr. Newcomb:

Thank you for your email message of August 22, 2012, concerning environmental assessment requirements for the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program being implemented in Victoria, British Columbia and surrounding communities.

The Government of Canada’s plan for Responsible Resource Development seeks to modernize the federal regulatory system for project reviews by providing predictable certain and timely reviews, focused on major projects that have a greater potential to cause adverse environmental effects.  The new Regulations Designating Physical Activities identify the types of projects that are subject to an environmental assessment as defined under theCanadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.  Smaller, more routine projects will still be subject to the requirements of all applicable federal and provincial laws, standards and permits.

The Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program, as currently proposed, is not included in the Regulations Designating Physical Activities.  The Capital Regional District has established an environmental strategy to minimize the environmental effects of the Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program.  If you have not already done so, I encourage you to bring your concerns to the attention of the

Capital Regional District, Wastewater Treatment
625 Fisgard Street
P.O. Box 1000
Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 2S6.

Sincerely, Bryan Nelson

Bryan NelsonProject Manager | Agent principal de projetsCanadian Environmental Assessment Agency | Agence canadienne d'évaluation environnementale
701 Georgia Street W, Suite 410, Vancouver, B.C. 
 V7Y 1C6
Telephone | Téléphone 604-666-2431
Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada


Clare Clancy
Times Colonist
August 23, 2012

Greater Victoria's sewage-treatment project will use $6 million over the next six months to take its first steps, establishing a program management office and appointing the commission that will oversee the project.

Included in the six-month budget - approved Wednesday at the Capital Regional District's core area liquid waste management committee meeting - is $4 million for consultant and advisory fees, a large chunk of which will go to Stantec Inc., which has a long-term contract with the CRD to provide management and technical services on the project.

"It was a productive meeting and we're moving along," said committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor.

The project, estimated to cost $783 million, includes a wastewater-treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, a biosolids facility and upgrades to the piping system. Currently, the region's sewage is piped into the Juan de Fuca Strait after passing through a screen.

Two-thirds of funding for the project, set to be completed in 2018, will come from the provincial and federal governments. Federal regulations require that a waste-management system such as the one approved by CRD be up and running by 2020.

A bylaw that would establish a seven-member commission to oversee the project - a condition of the funding - is also coming along, Blackwell said.

"We've got almost everything in the commission bylaw nailed down," she said.

Committee members couldn't agree on the bylaw's wording and decided to postpone voting on it until the next waste management meeting on Sept. 12.

Saanich Coun. Vic Derman said the wording is essential because it outlines the parameters for the commission, which he believes needs to search for innovative solutions and explore alternative waste management systems.

"If we're going to do this thing, we're doing it in the most intelligent way possible," he said.

The current project is a "19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem," he said, adding that he wants to see alternative proposals using cuttingedge technology.

"It's an inelegant solution because the design would be based on the existing system," he said, adding that he wants to encourage an "open competition" for ways to improve waste management. "I just don't think we've looked at what the possibilities are.

"Let's open the [request for proposal] process to ensure this commission is mandated - to allow and encourage other designs," Derman said.

The commission, which include experts from fields such as wastewater engineering and contract law, is expected to launch in November.



Daniel Palmer
Victoria News
August 21, 2012

A fragmented cycling network has long been an issue of contention for two-wheeled commuters in Greater Victoria.

Ridership sits at 3.2 per cent in the region, a proportion that could increase to 15 per cent with proper infrastructure upgrades like separated bike lanes, according to research from municipalites where cycling investment has occurred.

“Studies seem to show confident cyclists are fine on the road,” said Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe. “But to get beyond that core ridership, you really do have to provide a greater sense of safety for more hesistant cyclists.”

A University of B.C. study confirms this belief, showing 82 per cent of Canadians support government spending to create dedicated bike lanes.

Last year, the CRD completed its Pedestrian and Cycling Masterplan. It identifies $275 million in needed infrastructure improvements to create an integrated cycling network, including 329 kilometres of separated bike lanes.

“It’s a steep hill to climb, but I’m someone who likes to approach these things incrementally,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, discussing the possibility of creating a regional transportation commission to oversee such projects.

Ryan Mijker, board member of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said the benefits of cycling facilities far outweigh the initial costs. Dedicated trails like the Galloping Goose attract tourism dollars and can revitalize dead zones along the routes.

“You can also move a lot more people a lot cheaper by bike than you can by car,” Mijker said. “The most important thing is to fix the gaps now. If we look at the cycling network in Victoria, it’s fragmented at best.”

Municipalities always consider cycling upgrades as streets are dug up to replace aging infrastructure, said Brad Dellebuur, manager of transportation and infrastructure design for the City of Victoria.

But with a 2013 budget of $250,000 for cycling improvements, Dellebuur said the city can only build a skeleton network as opportunities arise.

Right now, those works include Craigflower Road, and the city is waiting to hear back from the province about sharing the cost of a bike lane down Johnson Street.

“If the CRD goes through with sewage treatment, there may be some works happening along Dallas Road,” he said. “But that won’t be next year.”

Earlier this month, Victoria passed its official community plan, which guides planning decisions for the next 30 years. It identifies major arteries of the city as “multi-modal transportation corridors,” and puts a greater emphasis on cycling and transit considerations.

But a regional plan with clear and stable funding could still be a long way off.

The CRD’s upcoming Regional Transportation Plan – which factors in the pedestrian and cycling plan – is only just getting underway and due to be completed in December 2013.

“Right now, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” said Leonard, who along with Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, is advocating for CRD control over Greater Victoria transit. An independent advisory panel recommended Aug. 14 that the province create legislation to allow greater local government input in B.C. Transit decisions.

B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom will announce the provincial response to the recommendations at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September.

“If the province gives the CRD transit, that’s the first step,” said Leonard,  adding a complete transportation commission could take two years to create.

Rather than forcing each municipality’s council to lobby for provincial and federal cash independently, the CRD could then present stronger business cases and decide upon a steady funding model for transportation upgrades.

A regional model requires all 13 municipalities to sign onto the agreement, which is a significant hurdle. Leonard argues those hurdles are a necessary evil.

“Taxpayers should be relieved that the CRD can’t get into certain functions without the municipalities agreeing to it. ... There’s a check and balance here,” he said.

In the meantime, the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition will be lobbying four municipalities in the fall – Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt and Oak Bay – with the hope of convincing them to dedicate 20 per cent of their transportation budgets to cycling facilities.

“I think we’ll see changes to how transportation is funded in the region. I think we’ll see a move towards a district-wide funding model,” Mijker said.


ARESST: San Diego sewage through Point Loma advanced primary sewage treatment plant is discharged several several miles out to sea and far below surface, but Tijuana sewage treatment plant discharged into the low volume Tijuana River - very close to human habitation in Mexico and near San Diego. 

Lucy D. Barker
San Diego Reader
Aug. 24, 2012

For the first time since it was built in 1997, the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant at the U.S.-Mexico border has met the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency three months in a row, according to Steve Smullens of the International Boundary and Water Commission. With that accomplishment, 90 percent of Tijuana’s wastewater is now being treated to cleanliness standards equal to or higher than cities on the U.S. side of the border.

“It’s very good news,” said Dave Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. “It’s an example of Tijuana’s growing commitment to the environment on both sides of the border. “

The border treatment plant’s final output is treated to secondary standards — cleaner than the city of San Diego’s, which fought for a waiver from the secondary requirement and treats only to advanced-primary standards. Once treated, the San Ysidro plant pumps effluent to the South Bay Ocean Outfall, about two miles offshore.

“The city of Tijuana is now producing cleaner wastewater day to day than the biggest U.S. city in the region,” Gibson said. “They’ve put a great deal of money and effort into it. Their lead agencies...put money into building and improving the plants in Tijuana.”

Most of Tijuana is served by four wastewater treatment plants. Two of those, Arturo Herrera and La Morita, which treat a total of 7 million gallons a day, produce “high quality” effluent — which is then pumped into the Tijuana River. The facility in the South Bay treats about 25 million gallons of wastewater a day.

The infrastructure in Tijuana wasn’t built with the backup pumps and bypass systems that most U.S. systems have, so working on the pipes can mean that the sewage is dumped into the Tijuana River. The last big sewage spills were in April — with 25 million gallons ending up in the Tijuana River — and in the U.S.

Last month, Tijuana gave notice to Imperial Beach, San Diego, the county, the water board, and other groups that 177,000 gallons of sewage were going to be released during a pipe repair. The response was immediate: No thanks.

“The pressure they felt made them back off from releasing it, and it didn’t happen,” border water commissioner Edward Drusina said at a citizens’ forum in Imperial Beach last week. “They are embracing a partnership with us.” Gibson agreed, pointing out that the U.S. has no jurisdiction or method to block the release of sewage in Mexico. Instead, he says, the growing relationships and cross-border investment are showing signs of improved sewage management.