November 11, 2013


Be prepared for a bigger tax hit
Victoria sewage project costs increase by $38 million - CRD's CFAX sludge spin job 29 OCT
Beacon Hill Park might be used for First Nations reburials (sewage pipe issue)
Sewage sludge not welcome on JdF lands
Processing sludge into concrete - CBC Audio
Temporary food-scrap fix favoured by Capital Regional District
-  CRD Nov/Dec meeting schedule posted
Accountability and Transparency out with the tide at CRD
Leachate line leak near Hartland landfill


Resident isn't confident with treatment technology (Burton-Krahn)
- No sense dumping biosolids on land (Henderson) 
Don’t add sewage to Hartland landfill toxins (McMillan)
Incinerator would add to operating costs (Shepherd)



EDITORIAL: Be prepared for a bigger tax hit

Victoria News
November 05, 2013 

Like any big infrastructure project, the $783-million price tag for the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment project, recently rebranded as Seaterra, is a floating target.

The CRD is nonetheless moving forward with this budget number to gauge bids from contractors hoping to build elements of the system. It’s the basis for the one-third funding from each of the provincial and federal governments and from properties to be using the Greater Victoria sewer system.

Seaterra program director Albert Sweetnam told a Black Press editorial board that the real cost is expected to be plus or minus 25 per cent of the budget.

That’s nearly $196 million either way, and previous provincial projects suggest the costs will migrate only one way: upward.

We don’t want to sound like Henny Penny, crying that the sky is falling, but a chunk of that plus-or-minus buffer has already been accounted for. This, a few years before the vast majority of construction on this massive project is scheduled to begin.

The CRD board last week bumped up the treatment project cost by $38 million with its decision to not allow biosolids fertilizer created in the CRD to be used in the CRD. Seaterra said its hand is forced to plan for a resource recovery centre at Hartland Landfill that is required to do a lot more than originally budgeted.

The CRD board’s somewhat baffling decision shows just how easy it is for millions to be tacked on to a project’s budget.

Taxpayers in the core municipalities are on the hook for any cost overruns above $783 million, and senior government contributions don’t include a 25-per-cent buffer.

Some municipal jurisdictions have already begun billing for sewage treatment as a way to spread out the tax burden.

It seems now there’s a good chance that burden may have to be spread out longer than originally expected for a project that is substantially more expensive, while barely out of the gates.


Victoria sewage project costs increase by $38 million

Daniel Palmer
Victoria News (Saanich News  6 Nov)
November 05, 2013

The cost of Greater Victoria’s secondary sewage treatment project is going up by an estimated $38 million after politicians voted to uphold a ban on human waste as fertilizer.

At an Oct. 30 meeting, Capital Regional District directors were presented with information that argues treated human waste is actually less contaminated than many agricultural manure products.

The commission tasked with overseeing the sewage mega-project said it could save taxpayers $35 million by spreading treated waste on CRD forest lands, a practice already taking place in other B.C. jurisdictions including Nanaimo.

“The risk is minuscule,” said Albert Sweetnam, Seaterra project director in an interview. “That decision (to uphold the ban on the use of biosolids as fertilizer) actually cost taxpayers $38 million.”

Now, the CRD will likely need to build an incinerator to dispose of dried biosolids in addition to a sewage sludge processing facility at Hartland landfill. The project also includes a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt and an 18-kilometre underground pipeline and pumping stations between the two sites. An exact pipeline route hasn’t yet been chosen, but Sweetnam said it will won’t cut through private properties.

Sweetnam became the public face of the CRD’s sewage project in September.

His “26-hour days” include functioning as the key liaison between CRD directors, staff, municipal and provincial governments and, perhaps most dauntingly, the taxpayers of Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, View Royal, Langford and Colwood.

Recent proposals for smaller, decentralized sewage processing plants would cost at least $2 billion and likely more, he said.

Sweetnam also didn’t rule out the possibility of looking at newer technologies for sewage treatment, but said the technology must be proven.

“Proven means it’s been functioning for at least five years at a facility of comparable size,” he said.

Construction at McLoughlin Point will begin next summer, while Victoria and Esquimalt advisory design committees will get a chance to critique the incoming requests for proposals, Sweetnam said.

“(The CRD) spent a lot of money studying options,” he said. “These decisions are now made, and we’ve actually started building. So the horse is out of the barn.”


CRD's CFAX sludge spin job 29 OCT

Here's the Oct 29th radio "infomercial" for the RD's biosolids spin job:

Terry Moore did a great job raising the issues we are all concerned about but almost none of his questions were answered to directly or accurately by Dr. Sally Brown, the plant that the CRD brought in to parade as a member of the public at the Oct 30 meeting.

She talked all about water re-use and how safe biosolids were completely contradicting the expert advice from Stantec's own scientists and left out the fact that we're not getting tertiary treatment with the CRD's plan or even if we did, all the water would still flush out to sea.

Beacon Hill Park might be used for First Nations reburials


- Many First Nations remains have been discovered in the area and it’s likely more will be found as part of the Clover Point sewage pipe project that the Capital Regional District is planning

- The Capital Regional District board could be approached about including the cost as part of the Clover Point sewer main project...

- First Nations elders have advised the city that discussion is needed on whether the area would be used for remains from all construction sites on Esquimalt and Songhees traditional territories or only from within City of Victoria boundaries.

Complete story:


Sewage sludge not welcome on JdF lands

Pirjo Raits
Sooke News Mirror
November 06, 2013

The idea of putting Greater Victoria’s sewage sludge or bio-solids on forestry lands did not sit well with Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) directors at a meeting on October 28, voted to maintain and uphold the sewage bio-solid ban. The 2011 ban states that no bio-solids would be sprayed or applied to land. CRD staff was asking the board to consider allowing sludge to be applied to forestry lands for silviculture uses, reclamation in mines, forage crops and landscaping applications.

“It was contentious issue,” said Hicks. “The CRD looked at rescinding the policy of putting bio-solids/sludge on land to change it to say they could put it on forestry land. I pointed out that the only forestry land in the CRD was in the Juan de Fuca.”

Hicks stated that the forestry lands are used for mushroom harvesting (among other things like hunting), which is just as much agriculture as growing strawberries. He said if it is not allowed on farm land it shouldn’t be allowed on forestry land. 

Hicks said the chiefs from the T’Sou-ke and the Pacheedaht bands were not in favour of bio-solids on lands they control. The Pacheedaht First Nation partners with Queesto Community Forest on TFL 61 and that is where the sludge would likely go.

“It’s not going to happen in the JdF,” said Hicks.

Hicks stated Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne was also on side with maintaining the ban.


Processing sludge into concrete CBC Audio

Gregor Craigie

Could there some day be a little bit of you and me in that new concrete building. We investigate the possibility that processed sewage sludge could be used in the manufacture of cement.


Temporary food-scrap fix favoured by Capital Regional District

NOVEMBER 6, 2013 
It is unclear how much food waste would end up at the Hartland landfill after an interim plan to develop a storage pit for separated kitchen scraps was rejected by a CRD committee.  Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD, Times Colonist
Before making a final decision, the Capital Regional District is looking for short- to medium-term options to deal with the ever-growing amount of collected kitchen food scraps.

Members of the CRD’s environmental services committee are recommending $85,000 be spent to upgrade and expand a transfer station for food scraps at the Hartland landfill.

The committee also recommends delaying a planned 20 per cent surcharge on kitchen scraps, which was scheduled to kick in at the dump in January, until a processing plan is in place.

Meanwhile, tenders will be issued to solicit options to haul and process kitchen scraps from the expanded Hartland transfer station for up to two years, as the region looks for a permanent solution.

Committee members decided against issuing a request for proposal for possible private-public partnership development of a compost facility at the landfill until CRD staff have an opportunity to report later this month on possible synergies between the processing of food scraps and treatment of sewage sludge at Hartland.

In an effort to prolong the life of Hartland, the CRD decided to ban dumping of food scraps at the landfill as of January 2015. It had planned to introduce the surcharge on loads containing food scraps as of Jan. 1, 2014. But as more organic materials are being separated by residents, then collected by municipalities and private haulers, the options for processing them are disappearing.

The region’s only licensed composter, Foundation Organics in Central Saanich, had its CRD contract and recycler licence pulled because of hundreds of complaints about litter and odours. The company had been processing organics collected in View Royal, Oak Bay and Victoria.

Food scraps collected in Greater Victoria are being trucked over the Malahat to Fisher Road Holdings in Cobble Hill, where the CRD is paying a premium to have them processed. That operation is nearing its licensed capacity.

Early in the new year, Saanich is scheduled to start collecting separated kitchen scraps from households. Oak Bay’s pilot scrap-collection program — which currently covers one-sixth of the municipality — is to be expanded to the entire district.

Meanwhile, Michell Brothers Farm, which had won a five-year, $4.7-million contract to process kitchen scraps from Saanich beginning next year, has notified the municipality that it won’t proceed, given the controversy surrounding Foundation Organics.

CRD directors have decided as an interim measure to landfill excess food scraps that can’t be composted.



Accountability and Transparency out with the tide at CRD

Avi Lambert
Open Victoria
7 November 2013

The Sewage Treatment Action Group (STAG) launched its alternative to the CRD’s secondary sewage treatment project a couple of weeks ago.  The RITE plan calls for a distributed tertiary system with approximately 16 small Dockside Green-type facilities spread throughout the region, some installed in existing CRD pump stations. The waste product, along with garbage and kitchen wastes, would be treated in a central waste-to-energy gasification plant.

The CRD’s response, via new Wastewater treatment program director Albert Sweetnam, was a solid thumbs down. His rebuttal included the unavailability of land, 31 tractor trailers of sludge being transported to a centralized treatment facility every day, and gasification being an unproven technology.




Posted on Willis Point Community Association FB page 7 November: 

There has been a leak in the leachate line coming out of Hartland Landfill. This is the line that directs runoff from Hartland down to the sewer. CRD is currently working on it but there is a concern for residents as to the effect on their well water in that area. This is a low pressure line - the one that would run the sludge up to the biosolids plant would be high pressure and a greater risk of running into issues like this.




4. Technical and Community Advisory Committee Review of Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan Draft Amendment. REPORT:
5. McLoughlin Point Rezoning. REPORT:

6. Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program & Budget Update. REPORT: 

7. Hartland North Resource Recovery Centre – Site Acquisition. REPORT:

8. Service Plans Review Process, Core Area Liquid Waste Service. REPORT: 





Resident isn't confident with treatment technology (Burton-Krahn)


No sense dumping biosolids on land (Henderson)

Victoria News
November 05, 2013 

Dumping sludge biosolids into the ocean is prohibited because it’s considered a toxic pollutant to fish.

So why on earth could dumping it on land be any less polluting? Are we less important than fish? Logic and commonsense show this is crazy.

The pollutants in ‘biosolids’ can’t be eliminated. When applied to land, they not only accumulate, but end up back in the ocean, polluting other waterways along the way.

Studies showing effects of long term use are sparse because the bodies that have the funds don’t have the incentive to pay for those studies.

This doesn’t translate into “scientific studies show it’s harmless.” That’s spin, PR, manipulation of facts.

The CRD’s own website warns:

“Persistent Organic Pollutants (one of the eight main pollutants identified) are very slow to break down in the environment, and in many cases have an affinity for the fat tissues in animals.

Therefore they are difficult to eliminate, and many are subject to bio-magnification. This means that they become more highly concentrated as they move up the food chain.”

These are serious concerns.

Marsha Henderson


Don’t add sewage to Hartland landfill toxins (McMillan)

NOVEMBER 8, 2013
Hartland was always a bad choice for a landfill. It is perched in a high-rainfall area in the midst of some of the finest parkland in the Capital Regional District. More important, from an environmental point of view, contaminated rainwater (leachate) draining through the landfill, and downslope from Hartland, has the potential to carry a lethal load of dissolved toxins.

The Hartland facility is well-engineered with state-of-the-art liners, monitoring wells and other facilities to prevent leakage into the groundwater. However, given that there are sharp objects in the landfill material, it is possible that the liners will be punctured as compaction settles the waste pile. Further, Hartland is located in a tectonically active area and it is probable that seismic activity could also rupture the liners. Either scenario will allow toxic leachate to contaminate the Heal and Durrance drainages and ultimately Prospect Lake and Tod Inlet adjacent to Butchart Gardens.

Now CRD is planning to add sewage sludge to this toxic cocktail. Do we want to play Russian roulette with the residents of Prospect Lake and the Tod drainage area, let alone pristine attractions such as Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and Butchart Gardens?

There are other potential landfill locations in the province that are environmentally superior to Hartland. However, it will take a revolutionary reversal of the closed-box thinking currently on exhibit by our CRD politicians to change the present potentially disastrous direction.

R.H. McMillan


Incinerator would add to operating costs (Shepherd)

NOVEMBER 8, 2013 
Re: “Seeking a sludge solution,” editorial, Nov. 1.

The editorial notes that building an incinerator to burn sludge would add $38 million to the cost. That’s just the construction cost. Running the incinerator would require taxpayers’ dollars indefinitely.

About 12 years ago, Alabama’s Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham, embarked on a major upgrade of its sewage system. Two years ago, the county declared bankruptcy because of the project, and had to lay off hundreds of workers. It was the second-biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history (Detroit’s is the biggest).

Much of the impetus for building the sewage-treatment plant in Victoria has been the promise of federal and provincial financial assistance. A financial downturn could lead to a postponement or reduction of federal or provincial assistance, leaving Victoria taxpayers on the hook for more of the bill.

Robert Shepherd