October 11, 2012

ARESST News Blog








Karen is our new ARESST Volunteer Coordinator and she has some interesting actions you can participate
in! Show up, grab your ARESST yellow tshirt ($20 donation) and show the world you won't tolerate this
unnecessary, billion-dollar waste of money for no good environmental reason!

I want to volunteer to help ARESST Stop a Bad Plan!: http://stopabadplan.ca/4-help.shtml

"Karen James" <kpj85@telus.net>

- if you can't volunteer, DONATE!: http://goo.gl/wje3D



From ARESSTer Elizabeth:

Richard did a fine speech I agree, and John (Berbusch) had interviews with all 3 media outside on the street where he could speak his mind.

Photographers were sent by the T-C, VicNews, and of course, CTV.

Karen, thank heaven, got some extra yellow shirts out there (I think we had about 7) so along with the double banner and sandwich boards, we made quite a colourful impression!




Thanks to Aressters Norman and Shaun who report information that Shaw Cable TV will be rerunning a 1-hour version of our ARESST Town Hall 
meeting. According to the Shaw community programming official, it will show up on the guide as Pasifik.ca program at the following times:

Sunday, October 28 th at 8:30 PM
Monday, October 29 th at 7 PM
Tuesday, October 30 th at 11 PM
Thursday, November 1 st at 11 PM

Kim Robinson , Admin. Assistant,
Community Programming
Shaw TV, Channel 4


*See CRD reply below*

Comment: You can help stop unnecessary sewage treatment
OCTOBER 3, 2012

Does Victoria really "dump raw sewage into the ocean?" And is the remedy for the "problem" worth the environmental damage it will cause?

The "dumping raw sewage" sound bite, spread far and wide as the refrain for abandoning our current sewage-treatment system, is well on its way to misleading taxpayers into spending a billion dollars or more. It overlooks once again the fact that Victoria's sewage effluent is finely screened and composed of more than 99.9 per cent water.

The basics of the wastewater engineering plan were confirmed Friday by Capital Regional District's interim project manager, Jack Hull. The implications are frightening.

A one-metre diameter force main (pressurized pipeline) must be laid along Dallas Road, through Beacon Hill Park and through the James Bay neighbourhood to the planned tunnel at Ogden Point.

Laying the pipe would require excavating a trench at least 3.5 metres deep. To prevent such a deep trench from collapsing on the workers, Worksafe B.C. requires that if it cannot be shored, it must be 12 metres wide at the surface.

Such an excavation through James Bay's neighbourhoods and narrow side streets would disrupt vehicle and pedestrian traffic and would impact existing water mains, sewers, drains and power and communications cables.

The pipeline would then be blasted through rock outcroppings at the Ogden Point cruise-ship terminal, affecting nearby properties and tourism.

To accommodate the pipeline between Ogden Point and McLoughlin Point, further blasting would be required during construction of the onekilometrelong, three-metre-diameter lighted and ventilated tunnel under the entrance to Victoria Harbour.

Then, at McLoughlin Point, the combined flows from Clover and McCaulay points would be reduced to sludge and with the aid of five pumping stations, the sludge would be pumped uphill 17.7 kilometres to the Hartland landfill (200 metres elevation) to be dried and buried, thus shortening the life of the landfill.

A parallel main back to McLoughlin Point would return the treated effluent to the plant. Both mains would follow Victoria View Road, Lampson Street and Tillicum Road, and would cross the Gorge and then follow Tillicum, Interurban, West Saanich and Hartland roads.

This madness will take place in an active earthquake zone.

Concentrated sewage sludge contains contaminants that are no less noxious than oil. Spills originating from the sewage force main from Clover Point, the tunnel under the harbour or the sludge force main to Hartland Road could well become environmental catastrophes.

Marine scientists are particularly concerned about the pipeline at the entrance to Victoria Harbour, where a spill could have serious consequences. Whereas currently treated effluent is safely discharged far offshore into rapid ocean currents, currents at the mouth of the harbour would push untreated effluent spills into the harbour and against its shores.

Do we really want the equivalent of another Northern Gateway pipeline in our neighbourhoods?

Neither of the senior levels of government will pay anything toward cost overruns. Inevitable overruns and the capital and operating costs will be the sole responsibility of water ratepayers, including homeowners, renters, public schools, hospitals and the provincial government buildings, including the legislature.

Why are we abandoning our existing highly effective practice of natural marine treatment, in which substantial public money has already been invested to finely screen the effluent and to implement sourcecontrol programs to prevent toxic chemicals from entering the ocean, in order to incur these severe environmental risks at much higher cost?

There has been, and will be, no referendum on the matter.

This unnecessary and expensive sewage project can be stopped if enough citizens put co-ordinated pressure on politicians.

Former federal environment minister David Anderson and several University of Victoria marine scientists will discuss the politics and the science this evening at 7: 30 p.m. at St. Ann's Academy Auditorium, 835 Humboldt St. (rear entrance).

- Elizabeth Woodworth is a board member of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARESST.ca).



Presentation to the CRD’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee, October 10th 2012, by Dr Shaun Peck.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you again.

Speaking to agenda item 5 – the proposed Commission Bylaw 3851.

My greatest concern is that you are putting the local taxpayers at risk by passing this by-law. This bylaw proposes that you delegate the responsibility for the land based sewage treatment plan to a Commission who are given carte blanche to go ahead with the plan. You are doing this with only a press conference commitment to funding. Should not there first be in place a legal contribution agreement first? Should you not see a budget for the Commission with the amounts being paid the Commissioners before you agree to the bylaw?

I heard Chairman Young on the radio this morning say that an independent Commission is a condition of the funders. However I have searched letters from Ministers and read the press releases and I did not see a reference to this.

I am amazed that in the letter attached to to-day’s report that a Provincial Assistant Deputy Minister is giving direction to an elected official – the Chairman of the CRD Board. It seems quite irregular and the usual excepted practice is for elected officials (the Minister, in this case the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development) to provide direction to other Municipal elected officials. There is no mention of the authority of the ADM to give this direction.

(I did note that ADM Julian Paine was appointed Inspector of Municipalities by Order in Council on March 8th 2012 but then the duties listed in the Local Government Act do not include approving by-laws except when they are money bylaws. He was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister by Order in Council on October 12 th 2011)

I note in the ADMs letter “It is the Province’s experience that large complex projects with elected officials in a decision making role on the project team can result in increased market concern and significant delays, negatively impacting the schedule and budget for those projects”.

As a taxpayer I am very concerned about this. It is basically saying the Province (whose present Government is only committed to one third of the capital costs once the project is substantially completed) is saying we no longer want input from the elected officials who represent the local taxpayers. And presumably this means that they do not want any further public input. Just give the Commission carte blanche to go ahead with this
bad plan.

As a taxpayer I am very concerned that the project is going to incur significant cost overruns as has occurred with other major projects such as the Vancouver Convention Center and the Fast Ferries. It is highly predictable that this will happen. Who knows what might call for extra funds – perhaps aboriginal burial sites along the proposed pipeline in Beacon Hill Park. You cannot predict but you can be pretty certain the cost overruns will occur. The CRD taxpayers will be paying 100% of the cost overruns.

It is of interest that the proposed Commission by-law mentions the CRD’s Social, environmental and economic objectives. This proposed land based sewage treatment plan cannot be shown to have any social benefit, that when you consider the marine, land and global environment it will not have any environmental benefit. I can
understand the economic benefits of hopefully local job creation for the building and operating of the plants.

The following are comments on item #6 Cost Allocation. The draft financial impact of the land based sewage treatment plan provides numbers which seem a little lower than before. I hope that staff will inform us what costs are included in this such as debt servicing for the CRD 1/3 of the costs, 100% operating costs, 100% land costs,
100% of borrowing costs for the provincial share which is only going to be provided “on substantial completion of the project”, contingency costs at 100% for cost overruns etc. Over how many years is the debt being serviced?

As a final word, and as a matter of principle, and as I have mentioned to you a number of times before, I am opposed to the current plan because it has ignored the very credible views of many marine scientists, particularly those from the University of Victoria, about the effectiveness of our current deep sea outfalls in treating the sewage naturally. There have been many changes of political will and plans over the years and there is still time for more change and there will be more changes. There is still time to apply for an exemption to the Federal Wastewater Effluent Regulations based on the unique Marine receiving environment off Victoria.

Thank you,

Dr Shaun Peck, Public Health Consultant.
Member of Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria www.rstv.ca
Board member of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage
Treatment. www.aresst.ca




Since reversal of decision is unlikely, we should focus on making it work
Geoff Young
Times Colonist
October 11, 2012

Elizabeth Woodworth's opinion article ("You can help stop unnecessary sewage treatment," Oct. 3) is not likely to reduce the pressure from our neighbouring coastal communities in Washington for the Capital Regional District core area municipalities to finally move forward with wastewater treatment.

Woodworth is alarmed by the prospect of an "environmental catastrophe" if sewage were to leak from the proposed force main at the entrance to Victoria harbour and wash up on our shores, yet the entire volume, not merely spills, of exactly this same screened raw sewage is being pumped into the ocean a couple of kilometres away every day of the year.

True, the CRD's testing over many years has indicated sewage is diluted, managed and carried away by the rapid ocean currents, yet one can understand that the communities toward which our sewage is being carried might express concerns on reading Woodworth's article.

Elsewhere, a few cities in Victoria's situation have so far resisted land-based treatment, but the CRD has received no indication from the provincial Ministry of Environment that it will reverse the order to implement sewage treatment, or from the federal government that legislation will change to allow the CRD to be exempted from the requirement to comply by 2020 with new sewage treatment regulations. We have no indication that any party likely to form a government at the federal or provincial level has suggested they will reverse the decisions of the current governments.

The most likely effect of any foot-dragging by the CRD in implementing treatment would be the loss of the substantial contributions both federal and provincial governments have promised, potentially almost tripling the capital cost of the project to local taxpayers.

Certainly the wastewater treatment project will be a major public work that will require new pipelines to move sewage and biosolids.

There are already many raw-sewage force mains and other facilities throughout the region and the risk of sewage spills that Woodworth cites exist now and are accepted as part of the system.

Indeed, the current ocean-disposal system can only exist because Victoria and Esquimalt accept pipelines carrying sewage (which contains the same contaminants that Woodworth suggests "are no less noxious than oil" when concentrated as sludge) from the rest of the region. Far from demanding a share of the economic benefit conferred on the originating municipalities, the receiving municipalities share in the cost of the entire system.

In the same way, it is expected that other municipalities will accept the risk and inconvenience of construction of facilities needed by the region as a whole.

Environmental damage from sewage pipeline leaks and failures has proven to be rare, and in the new system, a state-of-the-art control system will continuously monitor pressure in the pipelines, shutting down pumps when low pressure is detected, for example, minimizing spills in the rare event of a pipe break.

While construction of pipelines inevitably imposes inconvenience on neighbourhoods, as has other construction such as the recent replacement of the No. 1 water main or the new Trent Street force main through Fairfield, the impacts are short-term, and CRD policy is to reinstate the roads and sidewalks that are torn up, usually to better than original condition, and repair any future damage from the trenching.

In a similar way, the CRD has in the past taken many steps to ensure that our facilities serving the needs of the region fit in with, and even benefit, the neighbourhoods in which they must be placed.

- Geoff Young is a Victoria city councillor and chairman of the Capital Regional District board.




Municipal politicians want more control

Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
October 11, 2012

Greater Victoria politicians are picking a fight with the provincial government over control of the sewage treatment megaproject.

Mayors and councillors on the Capital Regional District's sewage committee voted Wednesday to demand additional oversight powers from the provincial government, before they pass day-to-day control of the project over to a commission of unelected experts. The cost of building the system has been estimated at $783 million.

The B.C. and federal governments have promised to fund two-thirds of the cost, but only if municipal politicians move out of the way and let a seven-person panel of experts in sewage treatment, construction and financing hammer out the details.

Having politicians in charge can lead to delays, budget overruns and increased concern by companies that want to see stability before they bid on contracts, the province told the CRD in a recent letter.

That didn't sit well with elected representatives, the majority of whom shot down a bylaw intended to create the commission Wednesday. Instead, the politicians demanded they get final approval over certain items, setting up a showdown with the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin called the province's stance "insulting."

"What the province is saying is, 'Don't you worry your little pretty head, we'll take care of this,' " Fortin said.

Politicians are supposed to have top-level oversight over the treatment project's scope and budget, but delegate control of everything else - including signing contracts and getting shovels in the ground - to the expert commission.

The CRD sewage committee voted in August to give politicians final say over the documents that invite companies to bid on the project, known as requests for proposals or requests for qualifications. "This is our authority and it needs to remain with us," Fortin said.

That's unacceptable, the B.C. government said in a letter to the sewage committee released Wednesday.

"I think it's a time when we should take a stand and say to the province, 'No, we need the ability to read and approve the terms of the RFP or RFQ,' " said Saanich Coun. Vic Derman.

Municipal politicians voted to ignore the province's letter and demand approval powers.

Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto called the province's demands "reprehensible" and suggested taxpayers would be horrified to know their elected representatives have lost control of key steps in the project's development.

"We have to go out and defend this to our taxpayers throughout the region," she said.

A minority of municipal politicians said they had no problem giving experts the final say.

Sewage committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor, said she doesn't have the expertise to vet complicated documents like requests for proposals.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young agreed.

Some politicians are "having a really hard time letting go" of control, said Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland.

The minister responsible, Bill Bennett, said in a statement Wednesday that it would be premature to comment until he receives official notice from the CRD that it wants to change its agreement with the province.

Candidates for the expert commission are expected to be unveiled in December. The sewage treatment project is supposed to be complete by 2018.



Inline image 1

Daniel Palmer 
Victoria News
October 10, 2012 5:38 PM

Capital Regional District directors should pull the reigns on the proposed $782-million secondary sewage treatment project and look at emerging and alternative treatment technology.

That’s the appeal Saanich Coun. Vic Derman put forward at Wednesday’s CRD liquid waste management committee meeting.

Derman said new energy extraction methods in sewage treatment could make the current project a relic before it’s even completed.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins also expressed concern that directors are moving too hastily to implement the plan, which includes a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point and a biosolids energy centre in a yet-to-be-determined location.

Both the federal and provincial governments have pledged to contribute one-third of the $782 million price tag, but any cost overruns will fall on municipal shoulders.

“The further we go down these roads, the more we have adopted and accepted this plan, the less opportunity we have to revisit and re-look at things,” Desjardins said later in an interview.

At the meeting, Desjardins put forward a notice of motion that calls for a re-evaluation of how federal environmental standards apply to the Capital Region and a request for exemption from federal wastewater regulations.

She also hopes the CRD will re-engage “prominent scientists who are united in their opinion that we are not harming the environment and that we have the wrong plan.”

“Basically, it’s asking this committee to take a stand and turn the table around, to stop,” she said.

The committee also reviewed the first concrete cost-sharing formula between the seven municipalities involved in the project.

Councils are expected to pony up $37 million, collectively, each year for the project, but the formula will be reviewed by each municipality before being approved.

Oak Bay fares the worst, with an estimated $391 annual cost per household by 2017, while Victoria comes in at $353 per household.

Esquimalt would need to charge its residents another $311 per household in five years’ time.

CRD staff cautioned committee members that the estimates are preliminary and will depend on borrowing rates at the time of implementation.

Dr. Shaun Peck, the former CRD medical health officer and board member for ARESST (Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment), also presented his opposition to the project at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

“There’s still time to apply for an exemption to the federal wastewater regulations based on the unique marine receiving environment of Victoria,” Peck said.



ARESST: It ain't our sewage that might be a problem for Victoria beaches, but storm water and birds...


Reagan R. Converse *†, Julie L. Kinzelman, et al

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (18), pp 10206–10213
DOI: 10.1021/es302306b
Publication Date (Web): August 22, 2012

Gulls are often cited as important contributors of fecal contamination to surface waters, and some recreational beaches have used gull control measures to improve microbial water quality. In this study, gulls were chased from a Lake Michigan beach using specially trained dogs, and water quality improvements were quantified. 

Fecal indicator bacteria and potentially pathogenic bacteria were measured before and during gull control using culture methods and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Harassment by dogs was an effective method of gull control: average daily gull populations fell from 665 before to 17 during intervention; and a significant reduction in the density of a gull-associated marker was observed (p < 0.001). 

Enterococcus spp. and Escherichia coli densities were also significantly reduced during gull control (p < 0.001 and p = 0.012, respectively for culture methods; p = 0.012 and p = 0.034, respectively for qPCR). Linear regression results indicate that a 50% reduction in gulls was associated with a 38% and 29% decrease in Enterococcus spp. and E. coli densities, respectively. 

Potentially human pathogenic bacteria were detected on 64% of days prior to gull control and absent during gull intervention, a significant reduction (p = 0.005). 

This study demonstrates that gull removal can be a highly successful beach remedial action to improve microbial water quality.