October 20, 2013


- CRD FAILURES - Atwell podcast CFAX 14 October
Planning Proceeding for Resource Recovery Centre at Hartland
Piping of sewage sludge across town to Hartland gets nod
Open Victoria: 'New Stormwater Utility Charge in 2014'
It’s a dirty job, and he’s in charge (Sweetnam, new CRD sewage czar)


Scientists picked for their knowledge (Dew-Jones)
Ocean radiation too big of a risk (Harrison)




CRD FAILURES - Atwell podcast on CFAX 14 October

Here's the podcast of Richard Atwell's CFAX interview from Oct 14:

Nuggets from Richard:

03:12 - CRD spent $35K on bottled water last year alone!
04:30 - CRD has expensive lobbyist in Ottawa!
05:30 - CRD has spent $35 Million on lawyers!
10:00 - T Buck Suzuki and Georgia Strait Alliance bad science!

October 30: CRD toxic sludge on land issue! Details to come.


Former VIHA public health chief and currently of RSTV and ARESST, Dr Shaun Peck's letter below is in reference to the press release released by the Georgia Strait Alliance, T Buck Suzuki Foundation and David Suzuki Foundation.


Dear Dr Ishiguro,

With the greatest respect I write to you to protest your support for the latest in misinformation presented by the Georgia Strait Alliance, the TBuck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and the David Suzuki Foundation.

The data produced by the UVic lab have been reviewed. It is noted that one item totally invalidates the statements made and is a mis-representation of facts.  In the table, Health Canada water standards are referenced in the heading which would imply that the numbers given represent numbers based on measurement of recreational water.  That is certainly the impression that was given from the TV interview with yourself. There is a clear distinction between recreational water quality monitoring and sediment sample testing. This has not been acknowledged.

The fecal coliform levels are from sediment samples not water samples.  A very different thing. When sediment bacteria are expressed in MPN/100 ml this is determined by placing some sediment in 100 ml of water, shaking very well to extract the bacteria from the sediment and then taking a water sample for analysis.  This is not in any way equivalent to numbers in a sample of water from the environment and cannot be used for comparison or claims of exceeding health standards which are based on the risk of bathing in recreational waters. You are not only sampling a different environment (sediment vs water) but the number you get is dependant on the amount of sediment you add to the 100 ml of water.

By using undefined sediment data and implying that it indicates that the waters off the various sites exceed public health standards is fraudulent misrepresentation at best.

What is also erroneous in the claim by the GSA, TBuck Suzuki and David Suzuki Foundation is attributing the finding of fecal coliforms in ocean sediments as far as 10.5 KM distance is evidence of sewage contamination from Victoria’s two deep sea outfalls at Macaulay and Clover points.

Fecal coliforms are indicator bacteria that are used to determine the possibility that their origins may be human. Fecal coliform bacteria however may not only originate in humans but also in marine animals and in other animals for example dogs and horses.  Fecal coliforms enter the marine environment from storm water drains all around the coast of Greater Victoria and are present in the feces of marine mammals.  They can enter the marine environment through direct discharge of waste from mammals and birds, from agricultural and storm runoff, and from human sewage. However, their presence may also be the result of plant material, and even pulp or paper mill effluent where this occurs.

In the past the Georgia Strait Alliance, the TBuck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and the David Suzuki Foundation have presented information that is not based on good science and can only be considered misinformation. See for reference:     http://rstv.squarespace.com/countering-misinformation-and/

I made the following statements in a press release from ARESST – the Association for Responsible Environmental Sewage Treatment.

“It is absurd to attribute the finding of fecal coliform bacteria in sediments off William Head 10.5 KM from Victoria’s deep sea outfalls as originating from that source” said Dr Shaun Peck, previous Medical Health Officer for Victoria.

 “It has been demonstrated clearly from the monitoring of the outfalls that within 400 meters the sewage plume is not detectable in the sea water by fecal coliform testing”.

 “Fecal coliforms are present in marine sediments and their origins are from many sources”.

 “In my opinion, based on many CRD studies, there is a minimal risk of human exposure (human health risk), either directly or indirectly to the deep sea outfalls off Victoria”

 “There no doubt that fecal coliform bacteria will be detected in sediments but the attribution to the deep sea sewage outfalls is erroneous and shows a lack of scientific understanding of the ecology of these organisms in marine sediments.”

For reference see: Merv D. Palmer (2000) Analyses of Sediment Bacteria Monitoring Data from Two Deep Ocean Raw Wastewater Outfalls, Victoria, BC , Canadian Water Resources Journal, 25:1, 1-18,DOI: 10.4296/cwrj2501001   http://dx.doi.org/10.4296/cwrj2501001. The study looked at data from 1700 samples and could not find the spreading of fecal coliforms away from the outfall and also that sediment fecal coliforms are not a good indicator of sewage contamination.

Yours in pursuit of good science,

Dr Shaun Peck
16 October 2013


Media Release
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2013
Planning Proceeding for Resource Recovery Centre at Hartland

Victoria, BC-The Capital Regional District (CRD) and the Seaterra Program will be proceeding with community engagement for input into the implementation of the Biosolids Energy Centre that is being planned for construction as a new Resource Recovery Centre (RRC) to be located at the CRD Hartland landfill site with other CRD resource recovery operations.

The CRD and Seaterra Program staff will immediately engage with nearby residents and stakeholders surrounding the Hartland landfill in Saanich including the Prospect Lake area as well as the areas of Willis Point, and the Highlands on the future development of the RRC. The community engagement process will share information about the proposed RRC, the project timeline and will work to identify community concerns about the construction and operation of the RRC to be addressed in the Request for Proposals that will be issued in spring 2014.

The RRC is one of the major components of the CRD’s Seaterra Program and the CRD Hartland location was approved as the site for the RRC by the Province in the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan Amendment 8 in 2010. The CRD’s Hartland operation currently recovers resources and recycles materials from many waste streams. Operations also manage and dispose of waste including residual solids from the CRD Saanich Peninsula sewage treatment plant and other sewage treatment facilities in the region. 

“The Hartland site makes sense. It maximizes resource recovery options by providing integrated waste management solutions,” said Chair Bryson.“Hartland is currently owned by the CRD and can provide synergies with the existing landfill and waste management services on site, such as collection of biogas (methane) and allows for future integration to occur between the region’s solid waste and liquid waste management programs.”

The RRC will process residual solids produced at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which will be sent to the RRC via an underground pipe and processed in fully enclosed structures to recover biogas (methane) and phosphorus. The CRD already captures methane gas from the landfill allowing for potential synergies between the resource recovery operations. The possibility of processing other organic matter, including kitchen scraps in contained and closed structures is being considered by the CRD and will be examined by the Seaterra Program as it would allow for expanded resource recovery and the capture of more methane reducing Green house Gas emissions.

In the last four years a total of 58 locations have been identified as potential sites for the RRC. In this latest review, seven potential sites were analysed including: Millstream Meadows, Pikes Lake area, an area south west of Luxton Road, Sooke Road at Awsworth Road, Burnside and Thetis, Prospect Lake Road at the hydro lines and Hartland Landfill.  The CRD Board had previously rejected Viewfield Road as an acceptable location. As a result of the review the Hartland Landfill site was confirmed as the preferred  option for the RRC for many reasons including:

- the greatest distance from residential neighbours, over 1 km
- is not part of the Agricultural Land Reserve,  a Park or Ecological Land reserve
- low likelihood of residential encroachment in the future
- the land is owned by the CRD
- other sites identified would also have required a conveyance pipe to be built from the WWTP, and on average were a distance of 14 km away.

“It’s important to recognize the conveyance pipe is transporting residual solids which are 96% water,” says Chair Bryson. ”We already have hundreds of kilometers of pipes transporting water underground throughout the Capital Region.”

“This is a significant milestone for the project and a positive step towards meeting the deadlines of the provincial and federal government for secondary wastewater treatment,” says Denise Blackwell Chair of the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee.

The CRD Board has been responsible for the siting of lands for the Seaterra Program facilities, including the RRC.  The CRD is working with municipalities to obtain any necessary approvals for the new infrastructure, including the RRC.The Board has directed the Seaterra Commission to draft the RFQ/RFP as to allow proponents to provide alternative sites if they so choose. 

If a proponent proposes and secures an alternative site they would have to demonstrate municipal and broad based public support to enable a LWMP amendment to be considered. Going forward, the Seaterra Commission will oversee the procurement process and development of the RRC.

“The CRD is committed to working with the surrounding communities to provide input into the implementation of the facility,” said Chair Bryson.“We will engage with nearby resident associations to work with them on the best way to reach out to residents to provide information and opportunities for feedback regarding concerns.”

This engagement will inform the Seaterra Program RFP process and work to reduce impacts on the community during and after the construction of this important infrastructure.  For more information on the Seaterra Program, please visit www.crd.bc.ca/seaterra

Attachment: Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program Biosolids Energy Centre Site Search-August 2013 Analysis



CHEK news story on Hartland Landfill as the CRD officially chooses that location for sewage project back end.

Wasn't Hartland in the so-called Minister approved plan? Talk about a confusing process.

Piping of sewage sludge across town to Hartland gets nod

OCTOBER 17, 2013
Greater Victoria will pipe its sewage sludge across town to a plant at Hartland Landfill, because no better alternative can be found, politicians said Thursday.

After years of looking — and a failed bid to build at Viewfield Road in Esquimalt — the Capital Regional District sewage committee said Thursday that it thinks Hartland is the best location for a sludge facility.

The decision paves the way for the CRD’s independent sewage commission to put the sludge plant out to tender for construction in the spring of 2014.

The $783-million CRD plan calls for a treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, with leftover sludge sent 18 kilometres to Hartland in Saanich using a pipeline that is to be buried along public right-of-ways through residential, commercial and institutional neighbourhoods.

CRD politicians voted to confirm Hartland at an in-camera meeting Oct. 9, and made the vote public Thursday.

The CRD said it examined 58 alternatives to Hartland in the last four years.

Politicians remained unhappy with Hartland as recently as July, calling it “insane” to pump sludge across the region.

CRD staff researched seven alternate sites in Saanich, View Royal and Langford — including land held by The Land Conservancy on Luxton Avenue in Langford, a site with power lines on Prospect Lake Road, agricultural land on Burnside Road, and previously-contaminated land at Millstream Meadows.

The committee felt the alternatives were just as far away as Hartland, and in many cases were too close to residences, said CRD sewage committee chairwoman Denise Blackwell.

Hartland, where the region’s garbage is buried, offers the possibility of adding kitchen waste to the sludge process, she said. “If you put it at Hartland, this is the beginning of an integrated waste management solution.”

Some CRD politicians have complained the search was constrained by the CRD’s unwillingness to consider agricultural land, expropriation and sites where people live within 300 metres.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said politicians have again been pressured into a decision based on concerns about the project’s timeline and about jeopardizing federal and provincial funding.

“Nobody yet has been able to convince me, around the table, that this is a good plan, or the best plan that we could come up with,” she said. “That's the frustration.”

Residents who live near Hartland are worried the sludge could contaminate nearby wells, lead to firefighting concerns and damage roads.

They expressed wariness at the CRD’s plan to begin public consultation.

“I think there’s going to be some talking, and not necessarily any action,” said Jeff Irwin, chairman of the Willis Point Community Association.

What will happen to the sludge after it is treated is still unknown.

Existing sewage plants on the Saanich Peninsula, Saltspring and in Sooke are dumping sludge into Hartland as waste.

The CRD said earlier this year that there are few buyers interested in using dried sludge as fuel in cement kilns, as it had originally planned. It will decide on Oct. 30 whether it should reverse a ban on applying sludge to land as fertilizer. But there’s opposition to putting human waste, containing heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, on farm land.



This morning on CFAX, CRD Chair Alastair Bryson was selling Hartland to the public:

"It's a win win situation"

"Information releasing programs?"

Is Orwell's 1984 required reading in the CRD Comm. department?


Open Victoria: 'New Stormwater Utility Charge in 2014'

Victoria taxpayers will see a new utility bill starting in September 2014, based on their estimated use of the city's stormwater drainage system. The plan was introduced at Thursday's meeting of the Governance and Priorities Committee.

City staff estimate that 43% of homeowners will see a reduction in their total utility bills of $28 on average in the first year of operation. Another 39% will see an increase of between 0 and $50, while the balance will see an increase of between $50 to $200. The biggest financial impact will fall on the civic/institutional and commercial/industrial users.


It’s a dirty job, and he’s in charge (bio about Albert Sweetnam, new CRD sewage czar)

No stranger to controversy, overqualified sewage-project boss takes an unconventional approach

Rob Shaw
Times Colonist
20 October 2013, page A3.

When Albert Sweetnam built one of Greater Toronto’s first private tolled highways, he faced off against protesters who chained themselves to trees and hurled tomatoes and dead fish at him.

So, he’s apt to feel right at home in Victoria as the new head of an equally controversial sewage treatment project, where a man in a giant turd costume is the unofficial mascot and a steady stream of protesters picket virtually every meeting.

At least nobody’s thrown a tomato at him here. Yet.

Sweetnam became the public face of the Greater Victoria sewage treatment project this month. As project director, he’s tasked with getting the treatment system built by 2018, and taking over day-to-day control from Capital Regional District politicians.

It’s perhaps not a job many people would want.

Squabbling politicians are only beginning to finalize sites and technologies. At their last meeting, two prominent politicians accused each other of bullying, one director went on a rant about the public, and an audience member jumped from her seat to scream “Lies!” before running from the room.

Add to that to public displeasure about steep tax hikes needed to pay the $783-million project budget (despite two-thirds funding from the federal and provincial governments), and you get a job some might consider a nightmare.

“When I think back on my history, most of the jobs I’ve had people wouldn’t take for love nor money,” Sweetnam said in a recent interview. “But I’ve always done jobs that were on the edge — a difficult location, insecure, complex technically. I enjoy the challenge.”

Sweetnam emerged unscathed from leading the construction of the tolled Highway 407 in Toronto in the late 1990s. He led a $4.1-billion multi-company bid package, and, in the process of building the highway, dodged environmental concerns about bird-nesting season, avoided late penalties of $108,000 a day, and defused protesters who roped themselves to trees to prevent construction.

Greater Victoria’s sewage project hasn’t seen that level of protest, but Sweetnam said it’s not uncommon on big projects.

“I’ve been through this,” he said. “I know how to manage.”

There are massive technical challenges in building the region’s sewage system, including new underwater outfalls, plants and an 18-kilometre pipe that will cut a swath across the region from Esquimalt to Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

But equally challenging is “to get involved and actually make the community accept the project,” Sweetnam said.

“If everyone hates you in the end, it’s not a successful project.”

Sweetnam hit the ground this month by renaming the project Seaterra and promising increased transparency and more factbased information about what is being built.

But he admits to walking a careful line. The politicians are responsible for drafting the plan, picking the sites and controlling the budget. He builds whatever they tell him.

“It’s my role to deliver on what they’ve decided upon,” he said. “It’s not my role to argue and fight with the protesters. But what I’ll try and do, as part of my role, is to bring as much of the public on board to support us.”

Already, he’s taken an unconventional approach.

During his first live radio call-in show on the subject, he produced a jar of sewage sludge and gave it to CFAX host Frank Stanford to show that sludge is 98 per cent water.

“Do I dare open this and sniff it?” Stanford mused.

“Eh … I wouldn’t,” Sweetnam said.

But Stanford did it anyway (spilling some on his desk in the process).
Sweetnam’s arrival in Victoria has led to some raised eyebrows among project-watchers.

He’s overqualified for the job, having spent 30 years leading much larger engineering projects, including a $5.3-billion Madagascar nickel mine and $20-billion Ontario nuclear expansion program.

“Even though it’s not as big as I normally manage, it has all the complexities associated with a major project,” he said of Greater Victoria’s sewage plan.

And it’s rare in Canada to find such a large, complex, multi-disciplinary building project right now, he said.

Sweetnam also took a big pay cut for the job.

He earned $834,095, plus benefits, in 2012 as vicepresident of nuclear projects at Ontario Power Generation. His CRD sewage salary is $290,000 a year — though he also gets a one-year bonus payment if he finishes his five-year contract.

“As you can imagine, money would not be the primary driver,” Sweetnam said of his work.

He offered little explanation for his abrupt departure from Ontario Power, which a spokesman told the Toronto Star was due to a “mismatch of management approach.” It can’t be explained due to a confidentiality agreement, he said.

Part of the decision to accept the CRD’s smaller project for less pay was the possibility of retiring here, Sweetnam said.

The 58-year-old said he would consider settling down in the capital region at the end of his five-year sewage contract.

He and his wife, a nursing instructor, have already bought a waterfront home in View Royal.

“This would be a fantastic place to retire,” he said.

Though some people move to Victoria for the mild climate and year-round golf, neither perk does much for Sweetnam.

“I’m not really interested in golf,” he said. “For me, it’s the adrenaline. All the sports I’ve ever done have been adrenaline sports.”

Soft-spoken and reserved in interviews, Sweetnam said he enjoys squash, competitive sailing, hang-gliding, skydiving, paragliding and most recently kitesurfing — though not in Victoria, where “the water is too cold,” he said.

He also owns a Dodge Viper, which he and his two grown sons race in Ontario. 
“You get all stressed out and need some sort of adrenaline rush,” he said.
The only racing he’s doing in Greater Victoria is the kind necessary to keep the project’s timetable on track.

Sweetnam said he would like to sign a contract with a company to build the McLoughlin Point plant in Esquimalt by April 2014. Construction would begin by the summer.

Three shortlisted groups are preparing bids for the plant, but Esquimalt and the CRD remain locked in a zoning dispute over the site. Sweetnam said he won’t sign a deal until that has been resolved.

The project’s tight timeline requires certainty from politicians on the Esquimalt site. “You don’t make the major commitments until you have that in place, but you can’t just wait forever or you’ll never make your schedules,” Sweetnam said.

The new project director said he sees the seven years of debate and planning on sewage treatment as wrapping up by December, in favour of construction.

“I think by the end of this year, this will all be behind us and we’ll only be talking execution,” he said. “Because we have to. If we’re going to make this schedule, we have to move on.”



Scientists picked for their knowledge (Dew-Jones)

Victoria News
October 17, 2013 

The medical health officers, university biologists and oceanographers who were given the job of monitoring the Greater Victoria sewage outfalls were selected because they would know best.

The Capital Regional District plans to spend nearly $1 billion based on the notion that they know better.

As both an American and British study have determined that long sewage outfalls can protect the sea better than land-based treatment, it follows that once the plant is built, the best way to protect the environment would be to shut it down and go back to the long outfalls.

A ludicrous position but precisely true.

Ted Dew-Jones


Ocean radiation too big of a risk (Harrison)

Victoria News
October 18, 2013 

Re: Despite Fukushima, eating fish is safe (Science Matters, Oct. 11)

In the last couple of weeks, marine biologists, nuclear scientists and environmentalists have issued reports about the high levels of radiation they’re finding in all sea life across the Pacific Ocean.

This means my husband and I will no longer eat any fish or kelp or sea salt from the Pacific Ocean, no matter how local, sustainable, wild, organic, etc., they otherwise are.

You can imagine how shocked my husband and I were reading Dr. Suzuki’s column. I never thought he would choose protecting the fishing industry over protecting people, animals and habitats and would instead promote doing something so dangerous as eating anything from the Pacific at this time.

Since Fukushima, I have been waiting for our government, federal and provincial, and folks like Dr. Suzuki to address what is becoming the worst nuclear disaster in human history. People need to know if they’re eating radioactive seafood and ingesting radioactive isotopes which cause a variety of cancers.

If Dr. Suzuki is willing to take his chances, that is his decision. As public policy, such a stance is negligent at best, dangerous at worst. The consequences of promoting eating radioactive seafood  --  with the caveat that it’s OK as long as it is local and sustainable -- are enormous.

Helene Harrison