September 8, 2013

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- CRD Sewage Committee meets 11 Sept, 9:30am


Richard Atwell  interview CFUV



Capital miscalculation (major article in Focus!)


The sewage treatment question (Five letters in Focus!)
- Listen to your citizens on sewage plans (Weatherill)



CRD Sewage Committee meets 11 Sept, 9:30am, CRD Boardroom

To present, submit online form before Monday, 4:30pm:

Agenda and Reports:

5. Presentations
- a) Technical and Financial Implications of a Regional Distributed Treatment System

6. Biosolids Energy Centre Siting Process Public Consultation Final Summary Report:

7. Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program – Effluent Discharge Monitoring and Modelling Stage 2 EIS Results:

8. Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program and Budget Update  Report:

Minutes of 24 July meeting:



Richard Atwell  interview CFUV

Sep 5
Interview of Atwell on CFUV on Thursday:

We talked about the project origins, Viewfield debacle, P3s and of course the $billion dollar Dockside miscalculation.

Length: 42min



Richard Atwell
Sep 6

Atwell was asked by Victoria Indy TV to interview Vic Derman for "Face to Face" that will be airing this week on SHAW:

Shaw Victoria Cable 4 (and Saltspring Island) air times: 
Saturday, September 7 at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, September 11 at 11:00 PM

- But you can see it anytime on Youtube!


Capital miscalculation

Focus Magazine

The CRD made a fundamental planning decision about future development in the region based on strictly theoretical considerations and without including any public input. The result puts the CRD plan for how to expand sewage treatment in the future in question. 

While a pitched battle raged last fall between pro- and anti-sewage treatment advocates, a little-understood provision for allocating the cost of the $783-million project to the participating municipalities was quietly passed by the Capital Regional District, with no fanfare and no public input.

That distribution of costs was based on the portion of the proposed McLoughlin Point treatment plant’s capacity that was allocated to each municipality. A close examination of those allocations, and what they mean for where future growth in the region has been directed— without public discussion—is eye-opening. And lying at the core of this issue is the McLoughlin site itself.




The sewage treatment question (Five letters in Focus!)

Many thanks for your editorial urging the CRD to “get their shit together.”

My wife and I moved to Victoria in 1980 and have lived in several parts of the city. We have developed a great appreciation of it and respect for it. 

From its very conception of the various routes and choices of locations for the sewage disposal plans, the CRD has exhibited a callous dislike of the very environment in which we city-dwellers live. I recall one of the routes proposed for an excrement pipeline along Dallas Road and in James Bay, right next to Beacon Hill Park. The present idea is to build a plant, the design of which has never been published in its present form, at the very entrance to our harbour; and then there’s the 36 kilometres of pipeline to and from the Hartland yard. 

In the light of reason, there are not two choices to be made but many, and I feel it is essentially up to us, the inhabitants, voters and taxpayers of this place, to say: first delay the whole thing and then make a good examination of more advanced systems already in use, including in Victoria. 

There is no need for the massive constructions and expenditures at all. It may be best to deconstruct the present team involved in the project and make sure the minister in charge is informed of alternate systems which would actually deal with the toxic ingredients of the sewage which are not dealt with in the present one. 

The latest figure I have read for the cost already incurred for this boondoggle is $60 million. If it goes any longer that figure will rise and rise and we are already paying part of it in our taxes. 

A referendum would be toothless. Firing one person on the team would be pointless. Every knowledgeable expert on sewage disposal has opposed this one. Letters to the editor certainly indicate a general opposition to it. It is necessary for our voices to be heard in the halls of government, once and for all, lest the digging of troughs begin and the laying of pipe through our very habitation. 

Arthur Goldman 


I’m against land-based sewage treatment for Victoria. So Leslie Campbell’s editorial on the mess the CRD has made so far with its sewage planning is good news, but bad good news as I’ll explain.

I cannot understand why someone as bright as Ms Campbell must be can’t just accept the science. The science says our current system is excellent. She invokes “the precautionary principle,” but that is only applicable “in the absence of a scientific consensus.” There is a scientific consensus—the public health officers have said the current method is completely safe for human health; the marine scientists have said that there is no demonstrated harm to the marine environment. If one wants to resort to abstract principles, why not do an Occam’s Razor—choose the simple, cheap, effective system already in place instead of a complex, expensive, uncertain system yet to be built, whether that be a single plant or an integrated resource management approach?

Mike Day


If it works don’t fix it. Indeed several US coastal cities have had the same issue and the EPA has agreed to give them an exemption allowing them to continue to use the same concept we are now using [to treat our sewage]. 

Mr Harper professes to be doing things based on science but he seems to have ignored the science behind this issue, as well as many others (or stifled it in order to get around those perplexing, annoying environmental problems). So our BC and local governments have had to follow along with an ill-conceived plan that pisses many people off and that I predict will cost over a $1,000,000,000; cause more environmental stress than we now have; and do nothing for the street drain run-off problem which is more severe. 

So I ask that we stop and figure out what we really need and what works best instead of rushing in and creating something that is very expensive and not particularly effective. How many colonoscopies or other medical services can our health services perform with $1,000,000,000-plus?

Bill Day


Gene Miller writes “we sin globally by flushing our sewage into the wide ocean.” No subject is so misunderstood as the discharge of sewage to the sea. 

Rule one is only to pay regard to those qualified to give an opinion. I hold a degree in municipal engineering, helped design and construct sewage treatment plants for 14 years and spent 18 years in our provincial pollution control branch. But primarily, those qualified are the medical health officers, biologists and biological oceanographers who have been participating in the monitoring program over the last generation. None of them believe we need to build a land-based sewage treatment plant. Indeed its net effect will be to do some damage to the environment, to pubic health and to safety.

Over 20 years ago the CRD decided to hold a referendum on the issue but in their normal way provided the public with no information. So I wrote a book to do that ( By then the British had appointed a Royal Commission which deduced “with well designed sewage outfalls, we believe discharge to the sea is not only acceptable but in many cases environmentally preferable.” That is certainly so in our case where conditions are ideal.

The US Congress rejected a motion to require all discharges to have secondary treatment, the evidence to the contrary being “overwhelming.” 

The CRD have simply ignored all that as not convenient. Much fuss is made about toxicants, but ours are less than those discharging out of the secondary treatment plant at Annacis Island into the Fraser, although that probably still has a negligible effect. The sea has been eroding whole mountain ranges for three billion years and is filled with every toxicant known to man but in minute concentrations. Our waste joins that from Greater Vancouver and Seattle as it heads to the mouth of the strait and its impact is negligible.

At 87 I have literally been fighting this battle for half my life and hate to see it being lost based on ignorance.

J.E. (Ted) Dew-Jones, P.Eng.


I think that Gene Miller’s points re the conservative engineering perspective taken by the CRD are quite correct. But there’s a reason for that cautionary view: If the system doesn’t work, the engineers will get sued. And since public funds are involved, the politicians will be at risk for authorizing the work. This combination guarantees that a low-risk, existing technology, will probably be used. Change that legislation, and you might promote more advanced thinking.

I did some reading on the Dockside Green systems after reading Gene Miller’s article. Excellent forethought, and system implementation, from what I can see. But I see no serious estimates of the cost of a dispersed Dockside Green approach for the CRD which can be compared to the estimate for the “standard” treatment, or for one large Dockside-type system. Most processing systems gain significant economies of scale in their operation; this is why large single-purpose manufacturing and processing facilities are generally built, rather than multiple smaller works.

Additionally, not all processes scale up linearly. I don’t know enough about sewage treatment to comment further, but Dockside Green had the massive advantage of being built for a small, new, privately controlled group of homes, where, for example, the black and gray water streams could be separated at source, which I believe makes a serious difference in how you treat the waste streams. How would you re-plumb Victoria to accomplish that?

Bill Wallace


Listen to your citizens on sewage plans (Weatherill)

Saanich News September 4, 2013