November 4, 2013


The RITE Plan twitter account is now up
- Petition to CRD to maintain biosolids ban
CRD's Sewage Technical & Community Advisory Committee meets 5 Nov
Alastair Bryson on CFAX 1070 28 Oct
Philippe Lucas of Biosolids Free BC on CFAX 29 Oct
Raeside cartoon about sludge incineration issue
Keep sewage sludge off our farms and forests (Lucas op-ed)
CRD directors uphold ban on applying sewage sludge to land
CRD Director Marianne Alto's CFAX Interview 31 October
CHEK News: sewage treatment biosolids incinerator issue
CRD Sludge Meeting video 30 October 
Greater Victoria will likely burn sludge, sewage official says
Editorial: Seeking a sludge solution
Atwell interview CFAX 30 October
Is a $783M Victoria sewage plant necessary or the ‘largest boondoggle in Canadian history’?
More recycling needed for incinerator plan
Shaw interview CFAX 30 October


Call in auditor general on sewage project (Bodenberg)
- 'Proven technology' becoming outdated for sewage plant (Brown)
Gasification is not incineration (Ferri)
- Put the sewage plant at Hartland (Greenhow)
Sewage project could not move slower (Grimmer)
Burning won’t destroy heavy metals (Knock)
- Slow down the sewage project (Miller)
Sewage plant on a vulnerable site (Milne)



The RITE Plan twitter account is now up:

For those who may not be familiar with Twitter, some reasons why Twitter is so useful to our RITE plan campaign:


Let the CRD know that lifting the ban on biosolids is not acceptable:


CRD's Sewage Technical & Community Advisory Committee meets 5 Nov, noon:

Agenda excerpt:

3. Chair’s Remarks
4. Committee of the Whole Review of Regional Biosolids Management Policy
5. Proposed Amendment No. 9
a) Biosolids Processing
b) Proposed Wording Changes
6. Motion for Which Notice Has Been Given
Environmental and Social Review for McLoughlin Point and Hartland North – C. Witter

- Continuation of Environmental Services Committee, 6 November, 1:30pm

Agenda excerpt:
5. Regional Kitchen Scraps Processing Options (ERM 13-40):

ESC meeting index


Alastair Bryson on CFAX 1070 28 October.

Was Bryson on the Biosolid's Bandwagon or will he gives Biosolids the boot? You decide:


Philippe Lucas of Biosolids Free BC was on CFAX 29 October

Philippe Lucas of Biosolids Free BC was on CFAX on Monday to talk about the CRD's attempt to lift the ban on biosolids:


Raeside cartoon about sludge incineration issue

Times Colonist, 29 October 2013.


Keep sewage sludge off our farms and forests (Lucas op-ed)

Phillipe Lucas
Times Colonist
30 October, 2013, page A11

A recent study of the impact of sewage sludge on the local marine environment confirmed what many of us have long suspected— sewage is unquestionably harming the health of our oceans, and subsequently threatening human health as well. So why would it be any safer to dump it on our farms or forests?

Today, the Capital Regional District will consider overturning a ban on the land application of biosolids in the CRD, with a staff report recommending so-called “beneficial” uses, such as converting this concentrated sludge of heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into “fertilizer” to dump on our agricultural land and the region’s forests.

When it comes to public and environmental health, it’s imperative to be truthful with local residents; we deserve the facts. The simple truth is that the CRD isn’t proposing this to improve food crops or grow bigger trees, any more than we’re currently dumping it into our oceans to grow bigger clams.

These represent just one measurable outcome of our failed experiments in bioengineering: other impacts include contaminated lands, oceans, and surface and groundwater; disruption of the ecological balance of our ecosystems, and irreversible consequences on plant, animal and human health.

While we can’t expect all sides of this debate to agree with every study either for or against the land application of biosolids, there are a few things that we do know and can all agree on:

1. No one can claim that this is a safe practice. In fact, three Stantec reports have found at least some level of risk in all parameters they examined. There is simply no existing research stating that the land application of biosolids is without risk to human and animal life or the environment.

2. There is no commercial market for animals grazed on land where biosolids have been applied, or produce fertilized with biosolids. Food producers such as Campbell’s, Del Monte and Gerber all refuse to buy products fertilized with biosolids, and most major grocery store chains have policies not to stock or sell products tainted by sewage sludge, including Thrifty Foods, one of the largest employers on the Island and the largest buyer and distributor of Island-grown produce.

3. The Dogwood Initiative, the Sierra Club of B.C., the Island Organic Producers Association, the Island Chefs Collaborative and the Farmlands Trust Society all support the CRD ban. There is no public support for the land application of biosolids, and in fact there is very significant public opposition.

4. The land application of biosolids is the flashpoint of a huge controversy throughout Canada and around the world. A University of Victoria Environmental Law Society review found that this practice has resulted in lawsuits and bans on land application in Quebec and Ontario municipalities. If the current ban is overturned, there’s no reason to believe the CRD or the region’s farmers will be insulated from legal liability and associated lawsuits. So what are our options? 1. We can make the biosolids safer by putting in technologies to remove heavy metals, PAHs, and pharmaceuticals, but the CRD has found this to be too expensive.

2. We can turn biosolids into energy through proven technologies such as gasification.

3. We can contain these dangerous pollutants by storing waste in our landfill until either option 1 or 2 becomes viable, which is our current practice with sludge from Saltspring Island and the Saanich Peninsula.
The third option is by far the most affordable and environmentally friendly.

It would reaffirm the CRD’s commitment to protect agricultural lands, the local environment and public health, while eliminating the inevitable legal liability and public backlash associated with the land application of biosolids.

CRD directors have the opportunity to live up to their responsibility to act as environmental stewards, for the sake of our farmers, the health of our residents and local environment, and the legacy we leave to our children.

- Philippe Lucas is a PhD student at UVic and a former Victoria city councillor and CRD director. He is the founder of  Biosolids Free BC and chairman of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society.


CRD directors uphold ban on applying sewage sludge to land

Brown is not an expert in public health or medicine. Her BA is in political science and PhD in Agronomy. She doesn't publish much research but she does research that is funded by the Northwest Biosolids Management Association

CRD directors uphold ban on applying sewage sludge to land
OCTOBER 30, 2013

In a move projected to add millions of dollars to the cost of treating Greater Victoria’s sewage, Capital Regional District politicians Wednesday overwhelmingly decided against overturning a 2011 ban on applying sewage sludge to land.

The decision came after some six hours of presentations and debate. More than a dozen residents spoke in opposition to the change.

CRD staff had recommended that directors reconsider the policy, which would have maintained a ban on applying biosolids on agricultural land used for food production, but would have opened the door for use in applications such as silviculture, mine reclamation, fertilizer soil amendments, landscaping and forage crops.

But many directors said changing the policy wasn’t worth the risk.

“At the end of the day, I’ve got more questions than answers,” said North Saanich director Ted Daly. “I think based on the information I’ve heard today, I feel, personally, there’s more downside than upside to reverse our policy.”

Highlands alternate director Karel Roessingh said the potential liability issues are huge.

“This has the potential to be something that you just can’t clean up, and that worries me — that the metals will gather and things that we don’t know are in the stuff will gather. It’s like the plastic in the ocean. It’s something you just cannot deal with,” he said.

The CRD banned use of sludge on land in 2011 amid worries that farmland and the food grown on it could be polluted by pharmaceuticals and heavy metals.

Then the CRD planned to dry the sludge left over from sewage treatment as fuel for cement kilns. But experts say the market for it simply isn’t there. Without a buyer, and the policy banning land application in place, staff say there are few options.

The policy change would have brought the CRD in line with what staff said is common practice throughout North America.

“The science coming out of peer-reviewed, established research programs indicates that biosolids applications that follow regulatory guidance and best-management practices do not result in adverse effects to the environment or human health,” the staff report said.

Langford director Denise Blackwell said she supported the change.

“To me, the information that I’ve seen by credible scientists … leads me to believe we should give ourselves more options,” Blackwell said.

The move also had the potential to eliminate the need for a $35-million biosolids drying facility, the report said.

And Brenda Eaton, chairwoman of the civilian commission overseeing the sewage treatment project, warned failure to change the policy could mean the treatment project budget might have to be increased by $38 million to build an incinerator to burn the sludge.

But some CRD directors warned that changing the policy would have the effect of turning over the decision of whether to allow land application of sludge to the commission.

To do that, said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, would be “utterly irresponsible.”

“I have seen absolutely no evidence that the public wants this,” Ranns said. “This is strictly the commission wanting to save a buck — and I can’t blame them for that, but our responsibility goes far beyond that.”


CRD Director Marianne Alto's CFAX Interview 31 October: 


CHEK should really use some clips form the event instead of ones showing Frank Leonard and Rob Shaw who weren't there.


CRD Sludge Meeting video 30 October 

Director John Ranns (Metchosin) asks for accountability at the CRD. Watch as the buck gets passed around:

Director rans also wants to find out how many trucks of biosolids per day would be leaving Hartland for the forest. Nobody knew yet they were asking Ranns to make a decision to lift the ban.

Thank heavens the ban is still in place.

There are obviously some great staff at the CRD working under less than ideal situations but it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone.

Videosnap of Denise Blackwell's "Show and Smell" 

- where she passed around a tub of biosolids encouraging Directors to vote to lift the ban.

I never imagined that this project would become this absurd. The whole meeting was the worst example of "brownwashing" I'd ever seen.

We are still wondering where these came from as their origin was never disclosed. They were used as props by the visitor from WA state and taken home by the CRD Communications department.


Greater Victoria will likely burn sludge, sewage official says

OCTOBER 31, 2013 10:04 PM

The civilian commission overseeing Greater Victoria’s sewage project says it has given up trying to convince politicians that it’s safe to apply sewage sludge to land, after the idea was soundly rejected by the regional board.

It’s a “fairly likely outcome” that Greater Victoria will now need to build an incinerator to burn the sludge, at an estimated cost of $38 million, said Brenda Eaton, commission chairwoman.

That’s an extra cost not included in the sewage project budget, said Denise Blackwell, Capital Regional District sewage committee chairwoman. “It would be 100 per cent on the taxpayers of the CRD as far as I can see,” Blackwell said.

A majority of CRD politicians voted Wednesday to keep a 2011 ban that prohibits sewage biosolids from being used as fertilizer, because they are concerned about polluting land.

The civilian commission had asked politicians to reconsider, because it could shave $35 million off the treatment project’s $783-million budget. But the savings weren’t worth the risk, politicians decided.

“I’m disappointed with the decision they made, because it would have been a good environmental and financial solution,” Eaton said. “But they clearly listened to all the people who spoke. They spent six hours at it. I can only say they gave it their full attention.

“We consider it clear direction, and we’ll move on.”

Although the commission will keep working to find someone interested in buying dried sludge as fuel, that’s not likely based on the market, Eaton said.

The commission will launch a request for qualifications in the next month, asking for companies to come forward with technologies and ideas to build a sludge plant at Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

“We hope we’ll see responses from the people who are best in the world at this business, and that will help us understand more definitely what the market is for these various products,” Eaton said.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said she doesn’t think the commission should start the tendering process on a sludge facility when so much uncertainty remains. “I don’t think that’s appropriate, but I’m not an engineer, or staff, or the commission held accountable to those things,” she said.

Saanich Coun. Vic Derman continued to appeal to staff and the commission to research gasification facilities instead of incineration, but the CRD has said the technology is not proven.

The CRD’s failure to do the proper research on the project has come home to roost in numerous problems, Derman said.

The CRD will need to amend its official sewage plan, and get B.C. government permission, before it’s allowed to build an incinerator at Hartland. The Environment Ministry had no comment Thursday on the idea.


Editorial: Seeking a sludge solution

NOVEMBER 1, 2013

The Capital Regional District board made the right decision not to lift the ban on applying sewage sludge to land, but why is such a decision being made now? A proposal to collect and treat sewage is incomplete without a plan for what to do with the stuff after it’s collected.

This lends weight to some critics who have complained that the plan doesn’t appear to be well thought out.

But conceiving a plan in abstract is the easy part; it’s in the implementation of the plan that technological and political realities emerge. It’s relatively easy for the federal and provincial governments to decree that Greater Victoria should stop dumping sewage in the ocean, but it’s the CRD and its appointed sewage-project commission who have to deal with the nuts and bolts of land-based treatment.

When the CRD banned the use of sludge on land in 2011, it planned to dry the sludge for use as fuel in cement kilns. But there isn’t a market for that.

The appointed commission strongly supports using the sludge as fertilizer, compost or soil amendment, commission chairwoman Brenda Eaton said in a letter to the CRD last week. If the ban is not lifted, Eaton’s letter said, the region would have to consider building an incinerator to burn the sludge, adding $38 million to the cost.

The CRD voted Wednesday to uphold its ban, imposed amid concerns about pollution from heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. That leaves burning and burying as potential sludge-disposal solutions, each of which raises its own concerns.

The development of the sewage project has been a rocky road; it’s not going to get any easier. Everyone wants to flush their toilets; no one wants to live next to a sewage plant.

Technical solutions are available or can be developed; political solutions are much more difficult.


Atwell on CFAX 30 October
Here's my interview with CFAX from Thursday talking about the CRD Biosolids meeting on Oct 30:


Is a $783M Victoria sewage plant necessary or the ‘largest boondoggle in Canadian history’?

Tristin Hopper
National Post
1 November 2013

It was eight years ago, according to a story passed around Victoria, that then B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was at a meeting with Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire when the subject of sewage came up.

Ms. Gregoire’s toilet at the governor’s mansion in Olympia flushed into a standard municipal sewage treatment system. Premier Campbell’s toilet in Victoria, by contrast, fed directly into the Pacific Ocean. Anything he flushed went through a couple of mesh screens before it wound up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, within range of U.S. territorial waters.

As far back as 1991, when a young Ms. Gregoire was the director of Washington state’s ecology department, she had publicly called Victoria’s sewage program a “disappointment.” Presumably, the newly elected governor used her audience with the B.C. leader — who was actively trying to curry regional favour for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics — to raise the point again.

As the story goes, an embarrassed Premier Campbell returned to his capital, called up his environment minister, Barry Penner, and within weeks, Mr. Penner had ordered Victoria to whip its sewage treatment into shape. Soon, a fortuitous package of federal government effluent regulations kicked in to seal the deal.

In as little as one year, Victoria is poised to break ground on its answer to Mr. Penner’s call; a sprawling sewage treatment program that will rank as one of the largest public projects in local history.

It could end up costing more than a billion dollars, one of its main facilities will be among the first structures visible to approaching cruise ships and, according to scientists, engineers and decades of studies, it is a foolish, useless monument to an uncaring  government and an overly squeamish citizenry.

A Victoria sewage plant would be the “largest boondoggle in Canadian history,” Keith Martin, then a Victoria-area MP, told the House of Commons in 2009.

A physician by training, Mr. Martin is no slouch on environmental causes.

In Parliament he founded the All Party International Conservation Caucus. He spent his weekends campaigning to preserve old-growth forest, and he even wrote editorials pleading for the health of the world’s oceans.

“Our oceans are dying, and without life in our oceans, life on land will perish,” he wrote in a 2010 article for the Hill Times.
But Victoria’s sewage plant was different. As Mr. Martin told the House, Victoria’s system worked just fine, federal regulators were misinformed, and by forcing the city to build a secondary treatment facility, an ignorant federal government was forcing Victorians to pipe their sewage through an “irresponsible” menagerie of pointless structures.

David Anderson, a former federal environment minister whose Oak Bay home plugs into Victoria’s outfall system, was even blunter. In a 2012 public letter, he called the nine-figure project a pandering testament to “how far this country has moved [from] science-based public policy.”

Even Victoria’s large cadre of ocean scientists — the very people who would be sounding the alarm against a legitimate pollution problem — have come out in opposition to the plan.

“This is, at best, a low priority for marine environmental protection,” said Chris Garrett, a retired University of Victoria oceanographer. “If you want to spend a few hundred million dollars on protecting the marine environment, this would be way, way down the shopping list.”

A legion of public health officers have also joined the anti-treatment fray. In a 2008 letter, chief health officers for B.C., Vancouver Island and the Victoria region asserted that if Victoria really wanted to clean up the local environment, it should spend its millions on almost literally anything else.

“It does not make sense to plan a massive public expenditure for which no measurable benefit has been identified,” they wrote.

The technical name for Victoria’s current sewage regime is “long outflow.” Every day, an estimated 80 million litres of flushed detritus are funnelled through six mm mesh screens and the resulting “grey plume” is deposited deep off the city’s southern coast via one of two long outflow pipes

One is off Macauley Point, a picturesque park known for its abandoned wartime gun emplacements and the other is off Clover Point, a popular kite-flying spot.

Although pro-treatment literature often refers to Victoria’s 80 million litres as “raw sewage,” scientists are quick to note that, just like the standard toilet flush, the vast majority of the effluent is water.

Nevertheless, the system has long made the Garden City a target of regional and national ridicule.

Tourist officials in the prim, flower-counting capital have bemoaned the “optics” of the system, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin declared in 2009 that the city’s “reputation has been tarnished by our sewage treatment,” and many a Victorian with Alberta relatives has gotten used to opening long-distance phone calls with the greeting “you Left Coasters still s****** in the ocean?”

For a time, the most visible spokesman for Victoria’s sewage shame was a local student who took to dressing up as an anthropomorphic turd and parading through the city’s tourist-saturated Inner Harbour.

“Frankly, poop is a yucky substance, it has its own aura of perceptional difficulties,” said Tom Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and a vocal opponent of the proposed treatment plan.

Scattered studies examining the impacts of Victoria sewage have been floating around since the 1970s, but to date only two major reports have taken on the issue.

In 1995, the cross-border British Columbia/Washington State Marine Science Panel convened to gauge the health of their shared waters, and concluded that Victoria’s discharges were not a problem.

The finding was reportedly met with a chorus of “harumphs” from Washington State officials.

The most recent report, a $600,000 review drafted by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in 2006, struck a different chord. The group tacitly advocated a land-based sewage treatment program — but support was lukewarm.

The “benefits of treatment cannot be described or calculated with any precision,” the report’s authors announced in a public presentation.

“The costs of treatment are more certain, and they are significant,” they added.

The current estimated price tag is $783-million to build not only a main treatment facility, but a vast network of pipelines and other associated structures. Per household, the system — which was rebranded this month as the Seaterra Program — will raise taxes from between $250 and $400 per year.

Seaterra’s argument for the plant is simple: A new batch of federal regulations demand sewage treatment and Ottawa even ponied up the cash to cover one-third of the construction bills. The province is coming in with the second third.

Once the plant goes online in 2018, Greater Victoria will no longer release untreated wastewater into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, “as per federal government regulations,” Seaterra notes on its website.

Opponents have countered that Victoria should have simply requested an exemption, but Seaterra director Albert Sweetnam asserted that while public input is eagerly welcomed, it would be impossible to stop the project at this stage.

“Many people have had their say in this, and the politicians and the communities they represent have made a decision to proceed, and the Seaterra Program is the implementation of those decisions,” said Mr. Sweetnam.

In past opinion polls, Victorians have indeed come out in support of sewage treatment and the issue became a cause celebre among regional environmental groups such as the Sierra Club of Canada, the Georgia Strait Alliance, and the T. Buck Suzuki foundation (no relation to David).

Outflow supporters, meanwhile, have continued to mobilize around groups like Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria and the succinctly named

In almost any other city, the defenders of Victoria’s sewage regime assert they would be standing hand-in-hand with the land-based treatment advocates.

But Victoria is not like Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver or Seattle, all of whom would quickly overwhelm neighbouring waterways with untreated sewage. Off the B.C. capital, scientists assert, the deep, cold, fast-moving, oxygen-rich waters of the Salish Sea are uniquely placed to dilute the waste of a major city.

“You really have to tailor the treatment required to the receiving environment; some places you need a very high level of treatment, some places you can let nature take care of stuff,” said Mr. Garrett.

Nobody denies that Victoria’s sewage is not having some impact, of course, but scientists maintain the harm is simply not worthy of a 10-figure fix. There are no known dead fish, no closed beaches and no rafts of used condoms threatening local yacht races.

“We cannot measure significant harm from the Victoria sewage stream under the current treatment practices,” said Mr. Pedersen.

It’s entirely possible that a city’s worth of flushed Tylenol, caffeine and birth control pills is causing unseen damage on the ocean floor, of course, but scientists note the data isn’t there.

Before signing up for one of the most expensive projects in Victoria history, said Mr. Garrett, officials didn’t bother to kick even a small percentage of the final cost toward a wide-ranging, years-long study to determine whether that project was even needed.

“There’s nowhere you can go and find a careful, point by point analysis of all the things that might matter,” he said.

But, of course, with a city full of people who were never entirely comfortable with flushing directly to the ocean, it may not have made much difference.

As the 2006 report noted, “a number of people suggested that treatment is the ‘morally right thing to do’ no matter what the scientific community says.”

“I’m not against treatment, but the main thing that keeps pushing this project forward is aesthetics,” said Rob MacDonald, a retired ocean scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who lives on the Victoria sewage grid.

“How much would you pay to deal with an esthetics problem?”


More recycling needed for incinerator plan

Times Colonist
2 November 2013, page A6

Greater Victoria must dramatically increase its recycling rate before it can consider incinerating garbage with sewage sludge, the province says.

The Ministry of Environment said in a statement Friday that the Capital Regional District will not be allowed to consider a waste-to-energy plant for solid waste unless its diversion rate at Hartland Landfill exceeds 70 per cent recycling. Hartland currently sits at 50 per cent.

CRD politicians have suggested exploring ways to combine garbage and kitchen scraps with sewage sludge as part of an incinerator that the CRD civilian sewage commission says will have to be built to burn away sewage sludge.

But the ministry said that if the CRD was to try to burn garbage, “the applicable diversion rates would apply” for Hartland. An incinerator is currently not approved for CRD garbage.

The civilian sewage commission has said an incinerator is likely for Greater Victoria’s sewage, after directors voted this week not to allow sludge on land as fertilizer.

An incinerator is not in the CRD’s official sewage plan, and the government said Friday the plan would need to be changed and approved by the environment minister before it would consider allowing sludge to be incinerated.


Reporter Rob Shaw interview on CFAX 30 October

Rob Shaw was interviewed by CFAX's Ian Jessop on Oct 30 and talked about the environmental and political tug of war we call the CRD's sewage project.

Rob overview of the situation is well worth listening to. His balanced take on the situation comes out in his interview just as it does with his articles.



Call in auditor general on sewage project (Bodenberg)

NOVEMBER 3, 2013

It is time to ask for the auditor general’s help with our sewage-treatment impasse. Since the province has a large financial stake in the project, the legislature could justify seconding the AG.

I suggest four specific grounds for an appeal:

1. The Capital Regional District’s plan and the two rival plans are not directly comparable. One of the rivals has added solid-waste gasification and the other still argues for ocean dumping.

2. The CRD has never given the details of its $783-million cost estimate. Curiously, the estimate didn’t change even when major elements came and went — biosolids treatment at Viewfield, for example, or the sludge pipeline to Hartland.

3. A distributed alternative has never been properly considered. The February 2009 study that priced such a system at up to $2 billion simply added the cost of 10 distributed plants to the CRD’s $783-million figure, even though the latter included mega-plants at Clover and McLoughlin/Macaulay Points for which the 10 new plants would have been largely substitutes.

4. The CRD changes its mind with maddening frequency. During last June’s open houses, the senior engineer gave assurances of demand from utilities for methane and from agriculturists for de-watered sludge. Now methane has been hushed, and the CRD has forbidden the farmland use of sludge that it formerly championed.

Only the auditor general can face down the gang that can’t shoot straight and show us the way to the OK Corral.

David Bodenberg


'Proven technology' becoming outdated for sewage plant (Brown)

Victoria News
November 01, 2013 

‘Proven technology’ is the current argument that the director of Greater Victoria’s sewage project, Albert Sweetnam, is using to defend the Capital Regional District’s liquid waste treatment plan.

But what does this ‘proven technology’ truly mean? In the past, it has been viewed as a positive attribute meaning adequate, safe and reliable. But in today’s world of rapid technological advances and weather change, proven technology no longer has the same value, as Blackberry can attest.

Today, proven technology is often more accurately described as outdated, backward and obsolete. Is that really what we want for our city and provincial capital? Is that really the infrastructure base that we want to build on for the next decade and beyond?

The CRD plan does not provide a good platform for modernization or movement towards tertiary sewage treatment. It is an expensive, bulky, centralized plant built on a small, low-lying lot on Victoria’s beautiful harbour. It provides minimal environmental protection at a very high cost.

Why are other cities modernizing while the CRD plays catch-up to implement yesterday’s technology – secondary sewage treatment?

We cannot just sit back and accept the status quo simply because it is easier. We must embrace good ideas, grow and learn in order to continue to prosper. We must challenge the city and CRD to do the same. We all want the best for our region.

Norma Brown


Gasification is not incineration (Ferri)

NOVEMBER 3, 2013 
Re: “Burning sludge likely, official says,” Nov. 1.

I find it incomprehensible that the Capital Regional District would reconsider the land application of sewage sludge. If sewage is not suitable for disposal into the marine environment, why on earth would it be acceptable for dispersal on land?

It was clear at the recent CRD meeting that the driving force behind this decision was the economic interests of potential corporations bidding on the waste-to-energy project and not the wellbeing of the environment and society. There is money to be had in land application of sludge.

I also take exception to the threat that an extra $38 million will be needed to incinerate the sludge if we do not proceed with land application. If the sludge is processed directly by a gasification plant, the equivalent amount of energy will be generated through an anaerobic digester and incinerator plant but with less of an environmental impact. This would save about $250 million by eliminating the anaerobic digester.

Gasification is not incineration; organic waste is heated in a low-oxygen environment and this breaks down the compounds into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and some methane. This gas can be burned to drive the process or generate electricity; it can also be converted into liquid hydrocarbons. The greenhouse-gas footprint is almost half that of incineration. It is the best solution for dealing with our sludge.

Filippo Ferri


Put the sewage plant at Hartland (Greenhow)

Times Colonist
30 October 2013

The Capital Regional District sewage committee is recommending an 18-kilometre pipeline to pipe sludge to the Hartland Road landfill from a plant in Esquimalt.

Why not just twin the line and pipe raw sewage to Hartland using current pump stations with a few added and process the waste at Hartland? Then pipe the wastewater back to the outfall.

This would eliminate the need for a plant in Esquimalt and place the processing of waste all in one area. The CRD needs to think outside the box on this project, as it appears that they are stuck on one method only and not open to other suggestions.

The CRD should be petitioning the federal and provincial governments for time extensions so it can look at viable options. 

Gordon Greenhow 


Sewage project could not move slower (Grimmer)

NOVEMBER 2, 2013
Re: “Slow down the sewage project,” letter, Oct. 29.

I chuckled when I saw this headline. Could the sewage project go any slower?

As a Victoria resident in the 1970s and 1980s, I tried to interest a few people in gently challenging the unsavoury practice of Victoria dumping untreated sewage into Juan de Fuca Strait and was criticized and patronized for my silly thoughts. The solution to pollution is dilution, don’t you know? (Right out of the 1950s, that quaint little ditty.)

It’s hard to imagine how this project could possibly move more slowly. Turtles are faster than Victoria’s action on sewage treatment. Good news that it’s finally happening.

Dianne Grimmer


Burning won’t destroy heavy metals (Knock)

NOVEMBER 3, 2013 

Re: “Burning sludge likely, official says,” Nov. 1.

As far as I’m aware, none of Victoria’s sewage comes from outer space, so everything in it is already in our existing environment. All we are discussing is how we redistribute it.

If land disposal is not available (thus keeping it as a solid or liquid), it is difficult to understand how incineration (essentially gasifying it) would make the world safer. True, normal incinerator heat would break down most pharmaceuticals (as would normal soil bacteria action) but nothing less than the heat at the core of the sun would alter the heavy metals.

In fact, the heat would tend to gasify the mercury and send heavier particulate matter up the stack, spreading it widely before it settled back to Earth. Is this really what we want?

Jim Knock


Slow down the sewage project (Miller)

OCTOBER 29, 2013 
Re: “Incinerator could be needed for sludge,” Oct. 26.

Isn’t it time for our sewage project to take a couple of steps and slow down? We don’t even have a plan for what to do with the sludge.

For goodness sake, let’s wait until we have a complete plan before starting to build a very expensive project we will be stuck with for a very long time. Have we even done a thorough environmental assessment?

It seems to a lot of us that this whole thing is being done in a very rushed manner. Slow down, back up, give up on the unreasonable deadlines arbitrarily imposed by the federal and provincial governments, and re-examine everything carefully.

John Miller


Sewage plant on a vulnerable site (Milne)

OCTOBER 29, 2013
Re: “Opponents of CRD sewage plan offer a proposal of their own,” Oct. 25.

Hoorah to the RITE Plan.

Here, living in the “City of Gardens,” one of the greatest little cities in the world, it’s hard to believe we are actually planning to pump sewage from all over the area into an old-technology plant sited in the centre of our beautiful harbour, only to turn around and pump the resulting sludge 18 kilometres to a dump in the hinterland.

Surely, in an age of brilliant technical achievements and possibilities, only a conglomeration of bureaucratic flounderers could come up with such a questionable, constipated and vulnerable solution.

Sitting, as we do, on a fault line between active tectonic plates, with both earthquakes and tsunamis a distinct possibility, one would have thought the concept of dispersal would have been high on the list of considerations for the Capital Regional District planners. Instead, the main system is to be sited in about the most vulnerable location available.

As citizens of Greater Victoria, we should give short shrift to any provincial or federal government that would short-change us into building what is essentially a limited third-rate system, just to meet an arbitrary deadline.

If we must treat our sewage, by all means let us do so with the quality and vision demonstrated by Dockside Green and Brightwater, Wash., and build the best we can with dispersed plants employing gasification tertiary-treatment technology for both sewage and kitchen garbage. We owe nothing less to ourselves and future Victoria citizens.

Terry Milne