January 4, 2015

- Sales-tax plan a dangerous step
Raeside poll cartoon replayed
Jack Knox's top 25 news stories from 2014 -sewage excerpt
CRD faces tough 2015 resolutions
Editorial: New year brings old issues
Jack Knox: Predictions for 2015 (Sewage-related excerpts)

Taxpayers have a stake in sewage treatment (Maler)
Some cost savings prove to be expensive (Stocks)

Sales-tax plan a dangerous step

Excerpt from editorial in Times Colonist op-ed 28 December: Editorial: Sales-tax plan a dangerous step

"Can municipalities in Greater Victoria plead for a sales-tax hike to pay for the new sewage treatment plant?"
Raeside poll cartoon recently replayed

Sewage-focused op-ed cartoon seen as among Raeside's best for 2014

Times Colonist 26 December 2014
Jack Knox's top 25 news stories from 2014 -sewage excerpt


CRD faces tough 2015 resolutions

Only vague mention of Westside initiatives but not of Westside Solutions committee. Editorial appears to reflect awareness of contribution of Richard Atwell. Description of Mayor Jensen as "stalwart" probably refers more to his regaining the Oak Bay mayorality then to past participation at the CRD core area sewage committee.


Editorial: New year brings old issues

JANUARY 2, 2015

Predicting the future is a hazardous pastime, but it’s safe to say that some issues from last year seem almost certain to crop up in 2015. Here in Greater Victoria, water will feature in many discussions, whether we’re crossing it on bridges or pumping it through sewers.

Every politician in the region, whether experienced or newly elected, woke up Thursday morning with the knowledge that the sewage-treatment question did not disappear when 2014 rolled into 2015. They and the rest of us can count on spending more time than we would like wrestling with the problem of how or whether to treat the region’s sewage.

While a few people continue to argue that the current system of pumping screened sewage into Juan de Fuca Strait is more environmentally sound than land-based treatment, the provincial and federal governments have told the Capital Regional District it must build a secondary treatment system by 2018 to receive funding.

Esquimalt has scuttled the CRD’s plan to put a single regional treatment plant on McLoughlin Point, which has thrown the $783-million project into confusion. The province refused to overrule Esquimalt, a decision that has effectively given every municipality a veto over a treatment plant within its borders.

Getting a system built by the deadline and saving the two-thirds funding from senior governments will take a lot of negotiation. The current thinking is that Esquimalt, Langford, Colwood, View Royal and the Songhees First Nation will have one “sub-regional” system, and Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich will get another one. Unless Victoria goes it alone.

With Saanich’s new mayor, Richard Atwell, a firm opponent of the original plan, and Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen the new chairman of the sewage committee, the dynamics around the table are likely to change.

However, the clock is winding down, and there is no time to restart the process from the beginning. Even if the new plan is ready as promised in March, we can’t afford another protracted round of debate and bargaining.

Everyone has to sit down with a commitment to serious negotiation. That means one or more municipalities have to take one for the team and accept a big or small treatment plant.

The dollar amount is smaller, but the water is equally troubled under the Johnson Street Bridge. The project was controversial from the get-go, and problems have only bolstered the arguments of those who say: “I told you so.”

Replacing the bridge was supposed to cost $77 million, but that has climbed to $93 million. The contractors have said they need more money, the city has said no and the dispute has gone to mediation.

As the troubles escalated, former Victoria mayor Dean Fortin continued to insist that the city had a fixed-price contract and it would not pay more. His unshakeable dedication to that line left many voters scratching their heads, and scratching Fortin’s name off their list on election day in November.

It’s never a good idea in politics to pin your future to the cost of a public project. Too many things are beyond your control. As in most areas of life, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to do the reverse.

Council will certainly learn from the woes of the past four years, but with the quality of Chinese steel emerging as a problem, the headaches are not over. This is the biggest project the city has ever undertaken, and with completion expected in 2016, the current council members will have their names emblazoned on its successes and its failures.

Keeping costs under control will be a crucial task. That means councillors must stay informed to avoid dropping unpleasant surprises on taxpayers.


Meeting Wednesday, January 7, 2015, at 9:00 am:

3. Chair’s Remarks
4. Presentations/Delegations
5. 2015 Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee Terms of Reference and Orientation
6. Amendment No. 9 Conditional Approval Submittals to the Ministry of Environment – Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan Progress Reports (EHQ 15-01)
7. Progress Report – Westside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select  Committee (EHQ 15-02)
8. Correspondence: Westside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee to MOE re: Update
9. Seaterra Program and Budget Update No. 17
10. Seaterra Program and Budget Update No. 18
11. Motions with Notice
- a) Options for Wastewater Treatment: Director Hamilton
- b) Implementing a Process for Investigating Best Practices: Director Derman
- c) East Side Select Committee: Director Young


Jack Knox: Predictions for 2015 (Sewage-related excerpts)

Jack Knox
Times Colonist
January 3, 2015 

Sewage-related excerpts from Knox commentary:

Feb. 4 — CRD officially drops plans for single sewage-treatment plant, endorses “sub-regional” solutions (translation: each municipality following its own road map, as usual). Politicians pooh-pooh fears about rising costs and loss of $500 million in federal/provincial funding.

July 29 — CRD’s “sub-regional” sewage solutions are revealed: West Shore will revert to septic tanks, Esquimalt to contract with navy to dispose of waste at sea, Oak Bay says status quo is fine as long as “the help” use facilities in Saanich. Saanich declares sewage treatment to be a Big Brother conspiracy, just like chemtrails, global warming, 9/11 and smart meters. Victoria opts for outhouses. Total bill: $1.9 billion, with no federal/provincial money.

Dec. 31 — Navy sells former CFB Esquimalt waterfront to CRD for sewage-treatment plant.

Taxpayers have a stake in sewage treatment (Maler)
Oak Bay News
Dec 19, 2014

Jack Hull is correct in stating that there is misinformation swirling around the sewage treatment project, however, we differ in stating from which side this misinformation is emanating.

I have references to scientific studies that show that tertiary treatment followed by advanced oxidation (UV+ peroxide) treatment does eliminate the vast majority of soluble chemicals that would be present in the effluent as opposed to such advanced oxidation of effluent from secondary treatment.

Mr. Hull is also correcting my previous statement that the CRD proposal would use 50-year-old technology, compared to much more modern tertiary treatment with superior membrane filtration used at Dockside Green. In my letter of Nov. 11, I was comparing the secondary sewage treatment system, that originated in the early 20th century, and by 1930, this activated sludge treatment was becoming the predominant process used around the world. The processes incorporated in the CRD proposal for McLoughlin Point that he alludes to are just enhancements to this old process and I would compare it to putting lipstick on a pig.

I agree with Mr. Hull’s calculation of 7-8 decentralized plants we would need for the required capacity of 216 megalitres/day in our region, however, I do not agree with his cost calculation. According to extensive research data analyzed by RITE plan advocates, the cost of each plant with a capacity of 25 megalitres/day would be about $50 million, or $400 million for eight such plants. This is based on the costs of several representative existing and working tertiary treatment plants.

If the experienced professionals Mr. Hull is referring to will be providing us, the public that is paying the bills, with trustworthy data on the costs and available modern technologies, there won’t be any need to be discounting their expertise. Furthermore, I would not be so quick to discount the valuable input of an informed and interested public that may need to be keeping tabs on the qualified and experienced professionals that have over many years got us to the stalemate we are now facing at the cost of $60 million with nothing to show for it.

I agree that we cannot retrofit our home pipes with the purple ones for reclaimed water overnight, however, if the reclaimed water will be available in various neighbourhoods, new constructions can start incorporating them, as is the case at Dockside Green. I would be willing to retrofit my home with the purpose pipes if it were available on my street. I think it is safe to say that the reclaimed water would also be useful for watering gardens and parks and golf courses.

And perhaps the most important and immediate benefit of tertiary treated and advanced oxidized reclaimed water would be that we would not have to discharge the chemicals, superbugs, micro-plastics and micro-fibres into the ocean anymore, which is the primary reason why both the federal and provincial governments require us to build the treatment plants. In fact, we would be discharging much cleaner reclaimed water into the ocean than what the McLoughlin Point plant would have done.

The reason is that bacteria, superbugs, micro-plastics and micro-fibers would be removed in the membrane filtration process and the advanced oxidation would disinfect the effluent and remove the vast majority of remaining soluble chemicals.

I would suggest that truly thinking outside the CRD box would likely save us at least $300 million while building eight decentralized, modern tertiary treatment plants with advanced oxidation, followed by safe disposal and energy recovery from the sludge in one or two gasifier plants. I think that the CRD waste of $60 million with nothing to show for it in five years is the true benchmark to which all other options will be compared.

I think that Mr. Hull, as a taxpayer in Oak Bay, won’t have to lose any sleep over  the cost overruns, because I am fully confident that the new plan will cost less than his now defunct McLoughlin Point plan.

In closing, I think it is important that public consultation and public supervision takes place right from the beginning and all along the process as to avoid the waste of time and money hoisted upon the taxpayers of the region by the professionals and the directors of the CRD.

Thomas Maler



Some cost savings prove to be expensive (Stocks)

DECEMBER 31, 2014

Re: “CRD should take charge of sewage issue,” letter, Dec. 19.

The writer correctly recommends that the Capital Regional District show some leadership in the current process of public consultation about this issue. He also calls for a solution “at minimum cost to CRD taxpayers.”

He also states “a centralized plant is the most cost-effective option.” That claim is unfortunate, because it is limited to considering the initial capital cost of a sewage solution rather than the lifetime cost.

The Times Colonist has reported numerous examples of large projects in which a saving of initial capital cost has led to huge extra costs.

The sewage plant in Halifax was probably about $10,000 less expensive because some electrical controls were located where they could be — and were — flooded. The plant also “saved” maybe $30,000 by having a backup generator that was not large enough to handle the load connected to it. The resulting disaster cost more than $12 million as well as horrible ecological damage.

The multibillion-dollar transit system in Vancouver recently suffered an expensive disaster because a modem failed. Arranging for redundant modem circuitry might have cost $5,000. Repairing the damage cost millions.

We need a sewage solution that has built-in redundancy of plants, pipes and critical components. A good solution will “cost” enough up-front to save us from a financial and ecological disaster during its service life.

David Stocks