September 29, 2013

Stop the Stink Town Hall in Central Saanich
CRD Environmental Services meet video clips
Videos uploaded of Tanner Ridge composting crisis
TCAC first meeting
Editorial: A big hole in compost plan
- Mayor Desjardins on CFAX talking about big composting issue
Vancouver: Changing technology pushes up sewage plant cost
Letter: Tertiary sewage treatment too expensive (Randall)
- Letter: Backyard composting an easy solution (Hill)
- Letter: Garbage deal a coup for city (Hurkens) 
- Letter: Edmonton has top composting facility (Johnson)
- Letter: Waste-to-energy could save landfill (Witter)

Stop the Stink Town Hall in Central Saanich

Almost 200 people showed up at Stop the Stink Town Hall in Central Saanich Wed Sept 25.

They packed to capacity a multi-purpose room behind Keating Elementary and put Central Saanich Mayor and CRD Chair Alastair Bryson's feet to the fire over the Stanhope Stink.

More than anything else, a fundamental breakdown of government at all levels was so evident tonight: a near complete failure to respond to the health needs of people in a timely manner is both shocking and predictable at the same time.

Many complained that the CHEK news story was inaccurate. Even one of the owner's of Michell's said the story got it wrong.

Residents were also pissed off that Saanich was going it alone and sending its waste to Central Saanich. What is the CRD for anyway?

Many wanted all waste disposal kept under public control so the buck stops with the politicians they elect. No wonder the politicians are so against this idea!


TCAC first meeting

Richard Atwell:

After disbanding its CRD's Technical and Community Advisory Committee more than 3 years ago, after it convened for one 75 minute meeting to rubber stamped Amendment No.8, the CRD was forced to reform TCAC to process Amendment No.9.

It got off to a flying start today by hitting the brakes when one of the members (SABP's Carole Witter) pointed out that the committee structure doesn't confirm to the most recent Ministry of Environmental guidelines from...wait for it...2011!

Who did the CRD leave out?

(a) One elected representative from each municipality; (6 missing)
(d) Residents of electoral area and municipalities in the regional district; (at least 2 municipalities excluded)
(e) Local business groups and rate-payer associations; (latter, none invited)
(h) Local school districts; (none invited)

The shambles that was TCAC 1.0 is well documented. Have a listen:

CRD Director Derman's speech:

- "The past iteration of TCAC was problematic to say the least. Over a period of almost three years when it sat, this committee (CALWMC) for well over two and a half years, never received anything from that committee: no minutes, not a report, not a motion suggesting a course of action, absolutely nothing."

- "So, I talked with a few committee members...two of them came up with very similar comments, which essentially were, all we did is read reports you've already passed, have our sandwich and go home." 

CRD Director Barb Desjardins, reading from letter given to her by one of the former committee members, stated:

- "The works of this committee dealt with technical issues that already had been decided upon and public consultation was just a tag on. They met on Thursday following the main Wednesday committee meeting and some direction has already been given. I have had some public consultation experience and feel the CRD process to be flawed in this respect".

CRD Director Graham Hill's speech:

- "The previous committee did not help shape our agenda or debates"


Editorial: A big hole in compost plan

SEPTEMBER 26, 2013
After we carefully separate our kitchen scraps so they can be taken to a composting plant, there is a 50 per cent chance they will instead end up in the garbage dump.

No, we’re not supposed to call it a dump; it’s a landfill. But after this week’s news from the Capital Regional District, “dump” sounds much more accurate.

Residents of Greater Victoria have enthusiastically embraced the new kitchen scraps program, which is designed to extend the life of the Hartland landfill until 2047. As of 2015, kitchen scraps will be banned from the landfill.

In the city of Victoria, the amount of waste going to Hartland dropped by 37 per cent in the first three months of the program, proving that city residents were being diligent in separating their meat, fish, fruits and vegetables from their vacuum bags, rubber bands, hair and diapers. That’s 400 tonnes, or 6.5 tonnes a day, kept out of the landfill and — theoretically — sent for composting.

“Theoretically” because it turns out that the CRD can only find processing facilities for just over half of the 30,000 tonnes of scraps per year that are expected by 2015.

Municipalities spent millions on trucks and collection bins. They started effective public-education campaigns that built on Victorians’ well-known concern for the environment. People who did their own composting were generally happy to hand over the responsibility. Those who hadn’t composted had an easy way to switch.

Everything was in place everywhere down the chain — except at the end.

The plan relied on the private sector stepping up to build enough composting plants to handle the scraps. That didn’t happen.

Foundation Organics in Central Saanich was taking some of the scraps, but after repeated complaints from neighbours about the smell, the CRD temporarily suspended its contract and then its recycling licence. Foundation has appealed the decisions. Another facility is planned in Central Saanich, but it’s not running yet.

Some scraps are being trucked to facilities up-Island, but the rest is going into the landfill, which is not what anyone bargained for.

To deal with the problem, CRD staff recommend storing the scraps in a $200,000 pit at Hartland, which would have a “geotextile liner, leachate collection, clay capping and odour management.” It would cost $600,000 a year to operate the site. The scraps would stay there until composting facilities were available, when the remaining mess would be dug up and shipped off for processing.

Fortunately, CRD directors said no on Wednesday. Anything that can’t be composted will continue to be dumped in the landfill, they ruled. That saves taxpayers some money, but undermines the whole point of the composting plan. And it doesn’t explain why we embarked on this project without having a guarantee that there would be enough plants to handle the material.

As the Central Saanich debate unfolds, it’s clear that any new composting plants will face increased scrutiny, perhaps enough scrutiny to make investors think of putting their money in some other business.

Without sufficient composting capacity, the efforts of tens of thousands of environmentally responsible citizens will be for nothing. Why separate household waste into its various bins if you know there’s a good chance it will all end up in the landfill anyway?

To succeed, the kitchen-scraps program has to have buy-in from ordinary people. If they become convinced they are wasting their time, the house falls down.

Composting kitchen scraps makes good environmental sense. It will only work if the CRD can restore that final link in the chain and maintain public confidence.

All we’re doing now is burying the regional district’s mistakes.


Mayor Desjardins on CFAX talking about Central Saanich composting issue

Mayor Barb Desjardins was on CFAX on 25 Sept with Terry Moore to talk about the CRD's composting program problems in Central Saanich:


CRD Environmental Services meet video clips

Sept 25, 2013:

CRD Director Barb Desjardins speaks at CRD Environmental Services Committee about the "Central Stench" composting problems:

- And Desjardins about integrating waste streams:

CRD Director Vic Derman speaks about "Central Stench" composting problems.


Story below - project manager says: 
"When we looked at the different technologies in those three scenarios, the one we selected as moving forward is the one that provides the need for today's secondary treatment,"


Vancouver: Changing technology pushes up sewage plant cost
Price of upgrading Lions Gate plant to perform secondary treatment could hit $700 million
SEPTEMBER 28, 2013
Metro Vancouver has selected a plan for the Lions Gate secondary sewage treatment plant, with the projected cost now up to $300 million more than the initial estimate.

Fred Nenninger, project manager for the plant, said Thursday that the original projected cost of $400 million was based on a 2007 estimate of what it would take to build a liquid waste plant. But newer technologies have put the costs much higher.

"The technical team is still working on the cost estimates which we hope to have for the utilities committee in November, but the current budget is looking in the $500-million to $700-million range," he said, adding the costs are projected in 2018 dollars to reflect the year when construction is expected to begin on the plant in North Vancouver District's Norgate area.

The design was chosen from three shortlisted options which the technical team began reviewing in July. Nenninger said they have narrowed it down to one option, but there are still some details to be finalized before a report can be sent to the committee.

He said the plan chosen was the most cost-effective of all three proposals.

The other options used more advanced technologies, he said, which would have cost 75 per cent more in initial capital and double the annual operating costs.

"When we looked at the different technologies in those three scenarios, the one we selected as moving forward is the one that provides the need for today's secondary treatment," he said.

The technology planned will allow for later upgrades, should environmental regulations change in the future.

The plant will also produce biogas and scavenge energy from the effluent. He said the plant will include air-scrubbing units to address odour concerns raised by residents.

"Only purified air is discharged. We have had a lot of conversations with the local community about ensuring really good odour management."

The Metro board has yet to decide how the costs will be apportioned, but Nenninger said they are proposing that Metro adopt the model used at the Iona sewage plant. That would mean 30 per cent of the cost would be allocated to the Vancouver and North Vancouver sewage treatment zones, while the remaining 70 per cent would be spread across the region. Metro Vancouver is also seeking millions in federal funding to upgrade the Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants.

The Lions Gate treatment plant, which is slated to be rebuilt first, would require about $133 million from the federal government on a three-way cost-sharing basis with Metro and the provincial government. With a file from Kelly Sinoski


Letter: Tertiary sewage treatment too expensive (Randall)

SEPTEMBER 28, 2013
Re: “There is still time to improve our sewage plan,” comment, Aug. 22.

I have watched go from one extreme to another to derail the current secondary-treatment plan, including the idea outlined in the above-named opinion piece: “We need tertiary treatment” so we can flush our toilets and water the lawn.

Tertiary treatment is very fine, but at what additional cost? I challenge Richard Atwell to elaborate on his assertion that it would be “minimal cost” to bring this tertiary treated water into every home in the region. You don’t need to be an expert to predict that the cost would be astronomical when you have to supply special underground pipes on every street, then a pipe into every home and then plumbing to the toilet.

His suggestion that this reclaimed tertiary water could also be used for irrigation runs into a snag for most homeowners, since garden taps carrying it cannot be installed in a backyard garden because of the risk that a child might drink from it.

Infinitely less costly and just as good for a homeowner would be to install a low-flush toilet and just let the lawn go brown in the dry summer months.

Perhaps in the distant future we will be able to add enhanced tertiary treatment to the extent that the water coming out of the other end is drinkable and can be sent through the existing water supply pipes without any additional infrastructure. But for now I support the current secondary-treatment plan.

Derek Randall


Waste-to-energy could save landfill (Witter)

Re: “A big hole in compost plan,” editorial, Sept. 26.

Times Colonist
September 29, 2013

“Everything was in place everywhere down the chain — except at the end.”

This certainly is a big hole in the compost plan, and exactly what is in the cards for our sewage-treatment plan as well. There is no market for toxic sewage sludge — biosolids — and good luck with upcoming Capital Regional District discussions to apply it on land.

The capital region has the very real problem of how to deal with kitchen scraps, and the problem of biosolids disposal is on our doorstep.

The CRD must be willing to look at gasification as an option for dealing with kitchen waste, sewage sludge and much of the entire waste stream.

If we want to reduce the landfill, we have to look at waste-to-energy systems.

The time is now.

Carole Witter

More letters today just on compost disposal issue:

Backyard composting an easy solution (Hill)

Garbage deal a coup for city (Hurkens):

Edmonton has top composting facility (Johnson):