October 18, 2012







Paul Summerville campaign website
16 October 2012

I was on CFAX yesterday. This is what I said:

A by-election is not about changing the Prime Minister and the government, it will make no difference to how Parliament will be run or bills introduced, instead this by-election will be a mandate on what matters to Victoria, it is a rare chance to marry Federal politics to local politics.
So a vote for Paul Summerville, that’s me, will give voice to Victorians to tell Stephen Harper that steep local tax increases to help fund a billion dollar secondary sewage treatment plant – I like to call it the billion dollar boondoggle – is something we don't need and is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible.
And amazingly, this mad plan makes strange bedfellows because the NDP says it can’t be stopped, and it can, that’s not true (ed's note -- i used the 'l' word which I shouldn't have), and the Green Party says there should be treatment but not sure what kind.
The truth is that the other three parties WANT the plant and only one candidate is AGAINST it and that’s me.
And the case against the sewage treatment plant is overwhelming.
There are three key points.
First, the treatment plant is dismissive of scientists, health officials, and a former Federal Minister of the Environment David Anderson all who have rejected it as wholly without merit.
Second, this wasteful project will vacuum up all the federal and provincial infrastructure dollars that could be used for public investment in things like storm sewers, a 21st century transportation infrastructure a Victoria where people have a safe and efficient choice between walking, riding a bike, using a bus or a car, public investment that can have a defining impact on the success of our city for generations to come.
We can end up like the horrific Scarborough, Ontario where I escaped or the envied Geneva, Switzerland, where I lived, and this by-election gives us some choice in the matter.
Third, this mad plan will have a severe financial impact on seniors living on fixed incomes, families, single people.
To build and run this plant all of us, homeowners, renters, businesses; will face the consequences of steep local tax increases for years and years to come.
And this is coming at a time of not only a troubled global economy but a local economy as well.
For example, our real estate market is suffering its worst downturn in a quarter century and any local retailers will tell you that people are being very careful with their spending.
The secondary sewage treatment plant will be huge self-inflicted blow to a vision of Victoria as a powerful middle sized city that is the best place not just in Canada, but in the world, to live, work, and play.
So we will say to Victorians that the sewage treatment plant is not only bad science and fiscally irresponsible but it is bad for our city’s future Victoria and our citizens.
What is so powerful about the combination of this local issue with a Federal by-election is that allows voters to differentiate clearly between how Liberals think about Canada, and how the other parties think about Canada.
The easiest difference is always with the government --- particularly this one -- and the proposed plant being imposed on Victorians by the Harper government, is yet another example of a government that ignores science and scientists,  claims to be small yet is big, claims to be fiscally responsible yet is the opposite, dumping debt and tax increases on all of us.
They are after all the most fiscally irresponsible Federal government in Canadian history.
This opens the door to a reminding voters how scientifically stupid the Conservative government has proven on issues like mandatory prison sentences that even Texas politicians and police say failed miserably, about dramatically reducing the questions asked on our census that business people, and I assume governments, rely on to help make informed decisions etc etc etc
And because both the NDP and the Federal Green Party are not opposing the sewage treatment plant it provides a real contrast to a difference approach to politics.
Listening to the NDP candidates last week on CFAX discuss all the things they want to do must have sent a chill down the spine of anyone on fixed incomes, running a business, or just trying to survive in the current economy, it did mine.
You can’t do everything, politics is about choices, and our argument is that at a minimum public investment should be rooted in science not ideology.
And I really I don’t get Elizabeth May’s support of the plant which is forcing Don Galloway’s hand -- a man of high intelligence -- on this issue of supreme importance to our city
It’s pretty rich when Elizabeth May is in the same policy bed with Stephen Harper.
Her position is just emotional environmentalism probably because she is afraid to alienate the Green crowd that has been convinced by Mr. Floatie that Victoria’s current system isn’t adequate.
Of course your listeners will know that all of our sewage is screened so that nothing bigger the size of an aspirin is released; and that Mr. Floatie is just the figment of a dirty mind.
We will show in this by-election that Liberal politics are different than the other three parties, that Liberal politics are the politics of inclusion and responsibility, facts and evidence, and reason and dialogue not dogma and ideology and emotion.
The secondary sewage treatment issue nails this in every respect and smokes out every candidate and frames every issue.
Of course, you are going to hear all three progressive candidates, and let’s face it both Murray and Don (ed's note -- I wrongly said Tom, many apologies)  are highly qualified, outstanding and strong candidates, talk about a strong economy, fair government, and a clean environment, but the question is how to you get there?
The harsh light of the race will expose the difficult dilemma of finding balance between how points of view lead to different choices.
The Liberal point of view is that ‘we’re all in this together’ is much better than ‘you’re on your own’ and that liberalism is not an ideology, liberalism is a movement based on the trust in others to do the right thing, building efficient government to ensure a prosperous, fair, and clean country.
Liberals use science to find the balance between the environment, fair government, and the economy, while the other three Parties lead with one over the other because in the end ideology wins out.
Sadly, it’s this very ideology that is forcing on Victoria a secondary sewage treatment plant that we don't need and we don't want.
We will use our campaign to help stop this mad plan.


Denise Blackwell
Times Colonist
October 18, 2012

Re: "Project needs local oversight," Oct. 16.

The editorial about the sewage-treatment plant concludes that "the project ... needs input and reasonable oversight of local government," leaving the impression that this is not the case. The proposed commission bylaw is explicit in defining the responsibilities of the regional board, the commission and the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee. Some examples:

The commission is a standing commit-tee of the Capital Regional District board, with authority delegated by the board. Ultimately, the board is responsible for the delivery of the project. The bylaw clearly states the significant authority retained by the board, i.e. the elected officials, including authority for appointing commission members, approval of design guidelines for above-ground structures, mitigation guidelines, amendments to the liquid waste management plan and, most importantly, the project budget. The commission will not be able to approve costs above the budget set by the CRD board.

The commission is required to conduct its business in accordance with the policies and procedures of the board and to prepare consultation plans to provide for consultation in accordance with public-participation policies of the CRD.

Clearly, the bylaw does not hand over responsibility carte blanche to the commission, but retains significant oversight responsibility for elected officials and particularly for those responsibilities typically assumed by elected officials. The primary purpose of the commission is to employ the diverse expertise of its members to deliver the project in a way that will promote innovation, comply with federal and provincial regulations, achieve best overall value for money and best triple-bottom-line outcomes, as well as to complete the project on time and on budget.

Denise Blackwell
Langford councillor and chairwoman of the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee


Increase fees, re-evalute restaurant practices advised
OCTOBER 17, 2012 
Metro Vancouver’s sewage control system is just “basic,” one level below the highest category of “effective.” That was a finding of a report last February by its internal audit branch, obtained by the Courier through the freedom of information law.

The audit was done to assess how well “source control activities” were doing to prevent some pollutants, the sort that can’t be effectively treated through Metro Vancouver’s wastewater treatment process, from entering the sewer system.

The report listed seven “key risks of not having an effective Source Control Program.” These include a failure to meet environmental regulations, the deterioration of the local environment, industry discharging more hazardous waste, more money spent upgrading sewers, lower quality biosolids, more human health concerns, and public unawareness on how best to discharge waste to sewers.

More positively, the auditors found that Metro Vancouver has an up-to-date sewer use bylaw and well established regulations and enforcement.

Metro Vancouver, and its member municipalities, is responsible for conveying and treating sewage from residential, governmental and industrial sources. The discharge is moved through sewer mains to be treated at one of five regional wastewater treatment plants, and the system is regulated by provincial and federal laws. Last year, Metro had 200 industrial liquid waste active permits, and 98 per cent of the holders were found to be in compliance.

To help comply with the rules, many jurisdictions have “source control programs.” The programs’ purpose is to protect human health, safety and the environment, protect the sewers from damage, promote cost savings and promote quality biosolids. (Formerly called sludge, biosolids are the microbes, bacteria and fungi that are created when sewage is treated.)

“We look at the source of the problem and see if it makes more sense to stop it at source rather than just building a bigger and better waste water treatment plant,” said Ray Robb, Metro Vancouver’s environmental enforcement manager.

The audit had some advice. Metro should do an updated assessment of the source of contaminants, metals (such as molybdenum and zinc), and flows that enter the wastewater system. It should lobby the B.C. government for the power to issue tickets to better enforce the sewer use bylaw, and raise the industrial permit fees and fines for bylaw violators. The authors advised re-evaluating the Restaurant Code of Practice, with a new strategy to better enforce it, especially on “grease issues.”

“All of the recommendations have either been done or are well under way,” said Robb. “A new restaurant grease trap regulation is going to the Metro board this month for consideration. We have lobbied the provincial government several times regarding ticketing and maximum fines. They are supportive but advise that nothing is likely to happen until after the election.”

Just two of Metro’s five wastewater treatment plants (Lions Gate and Iona Island) are not yet able to perform secondary treatment, but Metro will soon enable them to do so. Metro is planning to meet the water and sewage needs of 800,000 more people by 2025.



Hawaii Reporter
October 16th, 2012

Three major sewage construction projects the City & County of Honolulu administration planned to complete for $88 million, actually cost the taxpayers $473 million.

That is five times the cost of the city's initial estimates.

Why were the estimates so far off? Why were the projects so costly? What fund is the administration using to cover the difference?

Taxpayers want to know, but so far, Mayor Peter Carlisle's administration won't give the answers.

Hawaii Reporter's questions posed to the administration last week are so far being ignored.

But even more remarkably, the city administration won't tell City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi the answers either - and she's in charge of overseeing the city budget.

"I have been asking about the cost over runs, the change orders and other financial details for these projects for years, and because it is difficult to get answers, it adds to the 'smell' of these sewer projects," Kobayashi said.

To be fair, some of these projects began under the administration prior to Carlisle - he's been mayor since 2010.

Before him, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former city managing director Kirk Caldwell were in charge for six years. The Hannemann/Caldwell administration finalized the city's federal consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency - a deal that will cost taxpayers $1.6 million in civil penalties and another $1.2 billion in upgrades to the sewer system and plants during the next 25 years. Caldwell is now a candidate for Honolulu mayor and is running on a promise to fix the city's infrastructure.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, also a candidate for Honolulu mayor, made the cost overruns an issue in a recent public forum. He also is running on a platform of fixing Oahu's aging infrastructure. Cayetano wants to focus on rehabilitating the dilapidated water and systems and the roads, which will cost the city about $12 billion to $15 billion.

Unlike Caldwell, a rail supporter, Cayetano said he will cancel the city's controversial rail project because the $5 billion to $7 billion that it will cost to build the rail is money needed for infrastructure repairs and the city's relatively small population of under a million people cannot afford both, he said.

Cayetano also notes that if the estimates for these three sewer projects are so far off, the estimate the city is now using for the rail, a much costlier project, may be way underestimated as well.

Here are the specifics:

1. Waikiki Beach Walk Force Main Addition
The Waikiki Beach Walk Force Main addition was initiated after a city pipe burst in 2006 in Waikiki, sending sewage into the hub of the tourism district. The break caused a chain reaction that led the city to directing 50 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai canal. The raw sewage floated into the ocean fronting Waikiki and Ala Moana beaches.

City officials, who in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, repaired the break in the pipe for around $3 million, wanted a back up plan to prevent such an environmental and economic disaster from happening again.

In 2006, the city planned a 6,600-foot Waikiki Beach Temporary Force Main addition, which Department of Design & Construction officials believed would cost $8 million and be completed in 6 months. But in fact, the project would cost $48 million and take 3 years to complete.

2. Sand Island Treatment Plan Disinfection System

The city’s second project was driven by oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA told city officials to get its wastewater system operation NPDES permit approved at the Sand Island treatment plant, the city must install a final disinfection system, such as ozone, Chlorination or UV. The city selected UV, despite the system adding another $400,000 a month in electricity costs.

The disinfection system, which was estimated at $20 million, was in fact completed for $178 million.

3.  Sand Island Treatment Plant Primary Process

In a third project, the city expanded the Sand Island Treatment Plant Primary Process.

The construction was estimated at $60 million, but actually cost city taxpayers $247 million.
Despite spending $473 million, Oahu’s city taxpayers are not done footing sewage related bills.

Because the city repeatedly violated federal law for several years, the EPA imposed a 2010 Federal Consent Decree and ordered the city to upgrade its facilities at the Sand Island and Honouliuli Waste Water plants. The city must spend $3.5 billion for a collection system and $1.2 billion for a secondary treatment system.



Chris Clarke
ReWire (California)
October 16, 2012 

A plant that once won environmentalist acclaim for converting sewage sludge into renewable energy may be put up for auction if buyers don't come forward, according to a consultant working with the plant's owners to liquidate the facility. The plant was shut down by its owners this year after production problems caused local sanitary agencies to void their contracts.

"They're out of business," Geoffrey Berman told Reuters. Berman, a vice president at the Los Angeles office of Development Specialists, is working with EnerTech to liquidate the company.

The Rialto Regional Biosolids Processing Facility was intended to turn sewage sludge from the Orange County Sanitary District (OCSD) and other local sanitary agencies into what EnerTech called "SlurryCarb," a biomass fuel to replace coal used by local cement kilns. 

When it launched the facility in 2008, EnerTech was flush with cash: the project received $4,050,000 from bonds issued by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority in 2007, along with an influx of capital from investors such as HDR, FILANC, North American Energy Services, Deutsche Bank, and Lehman Brothers.

EnerTech hyped the facility as being able to process more than 800 wet tons of sewage sludge a day into about 160 tons of dry biomass fuel. Production problems plagued the facility, however, and ratings agencies downgraded EnerTech's bond debt starting in September 2011. 

The facility was controversial in the Inland Empire, with critics maintaining that the OCSD was effectively subsidizing a failed plant unable to live up to its contractual obligations to process sludge. 

EnerTech stopped posting updates to the facility's web page in June 2009, which would seem to be about when things started going down the tubes for the facility. 

OCSD washed its hands of the business partnership in June 2012, its board voting to declare EnerTech in violation of their 2006 contract and to halt all sludge shipments to the Rialto facility.

EnerTech has not filed for bankruptcy.