February 15, 2015

CRD committee wants staff to handle market sounding of sewage treatment options
CRD’s conundrum: innovation could cost millions in sewage funding
CALWMC 11 Feb meeting video now available online; with notes
Dr. Shaun Peck's presentation to CALWMC 11 Feb
Comment: A sensible sewage-treatment decision process (McCandless)
No end in sight for sewage treatment planning (Langley)
Most of Saanich sewage not under consideration (Wick)

CRD committee wants staff to handle market sounding of sewage treatment options

Kyle Reynolds
February 11, 2015 12:45 

A committee of the CRD has passed a motion directing staff to to put out a market sounding for emerging technologies and methods for sewage treatment.

The process, if approved by the CRD board, is expected to take two to three months.

Staff had recommended the committee approve an alternate motion that a sole source consultant be hired to undertake a comprehensive market sounding. Staff suggested that option would have taken around 15 weeks.

Director Barb Desjardins put forth a failed motion to go with another alternative, to follow the Request for Qualifications and Proposals process to identify a consultant to handle the market sounding. The process could have taken up to six months.

CRD’s conundrum: innovation could cost millions in sewage funding

Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist page A4
12 February 2015

It ‘makes no sense’ to be tied to an option by promise of federal dollars: councillor

The Capital Regional District may have to walk away from $83.4 million in federal grant money as it explores innovative options for its sewage treatment program, some local politicians said Wednesday.

“Ultimately, we do we want the federal government to participate. Of course we do,” Saanich Coun. Vic Derman told members of the core area sewage committee on Wednesday. “But we don’t really want to get ourselves in a situation where we are tied to an overly expensive solution because it’s coming along with some federal dollars. That makes no sense.”

Part of the CRD’s approved liquid waste management plan has called for a biosolids processing centre at the Hartland Road landfill where sludge (the stuff left over from sewage treatment) would be piped and processed using anaerobic digestion to produce biosolids which could be used as a fuel substitute, produce biogas and recover phosphorus.

Derman has long been arguing the CRD should explore alternate technologies such as gasification, which could be cheaper, require less land and also handle kitchen scraps and garbage.

Derman told the committee that a gasification plant could be built for about $60 million compared to the $265-million biosolids facility that was being planned under the now paused Seaterra plan.

“If you think of the numbers I just gave, then the gasification solution appears to offer the potential of being built for less than the local contribution under the proposed solution with federal and provincial participation. So it would cost you less without even federal or provincial money,” he said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps agreed with Derman. “While we don’t want to snub our noses at any funding that’s available to us, there may be possibilities for actually spending overall far fewer taxpayer dollars if we remain or get open — truly open — to new ideas,” she said, adding: “It may mean losing the funding for the biosolids plant.”

The CRD’s Seaterra sewage treatment project has a budget of $788 million. The federal government has committed $253 million coming out of three pots: $120 million from the Building Canada Fund toward the treatment plant; $50 million from the Canada Green Fund for pipes, pump stations and tanks; and $83.4 million from PPP Canada for a biosolids plant.

The Building Canada and Canada Green funding have 2019 completion deadlines but time is running out on the biosolids funding. Under the existing arrangement, the region has until March 31 this year to sign the funding agreement or the funding could be lost.

The federal government has agreed to a 12-month extension but only if the CRD meets certain conditions, including committing to a timeline and having all approvals in place — including an approved treatment plant site — within a year. It’s a timeline that staff say would be difficult if not impossible to meet.

It’s unclear what the impact the loss of federal funding would be on the $62-million provincial grant that’s earmarked for the biosolids facility.

CRD directors instructed staff to enter into discussions with their federal counterparts to see what flexibility there might be and to report back next week.

All federal funding agreements are tied to the existing Seaterra wastewater treatment program, which would have seen a regional treatment plant at Esquimalt’s McLoughlin Point in operation by 2018. But the region halted that plan last year when Esquimalt refused to rezone McLoughlin to permit the plant, and the province refused to override the decision.

Since McLoughlin was rejected, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford and the Songhees First Nation have formed a committee to explore alternatives. Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay have done the same.
- GVPL PressReader version
CALWMC 11 Feb meeting video now available online; with notes

The 2.5 hour meeting video available to view at: 

Text of informal, unofficial video-linked meeting notes are stored on ARESST facebook directory. Using the notes might help with a keyword search to target themes and/or CRD directors you wish to hear in detail: 

Dr. Shaun Peck's presentation to CALWMC 11 Feb

Text of Dr. Shaun Peck's presentation to CALWMC sewage committee meeting 11 February (also can be heard from CRD video link above): 

Good morning Chairman Jensen and Directors, 

I would first like to thank you and the staff for the excellent recent summary presentations on the history of planning for sewage treatment since 2006.

In to-day’s reports I urge you to consider that there are many options available for engineered solutions that potentially will have a huge cost. I hope you will keep asking the question – what is needed to minimise the impact on the environment and ensure the taxpayer burden is kept as low as possible? The question should not be how we can buy the best available technology irrespective of the cost. (There is an analogy in Health Care where it is a continuous challenge for those who manage the system, to keep the lid on the costs of new technologies, but ensure Canadians still get good care.) 
I am concerned that the CRD has already spent $58.7 Million on planning plus $10.7 Million on acquisition of land at McLoughlin Point and Haro Woods. (The Viewfield Road purchase of $17 Million is now off the books).  

Another concern - to reiterate Chairman Jensen’s remarks - when the Federal funding was announced in July 2012 it was stated “Federal funding is conditional on Treasury Board approval and the signing of the contribution agreements”.

With regards to secondary treatment – the Federal Regulation requires meeting Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand (cBOD) levels – that is the requirement.

Previous CRD staff have reported that within a few meters of the end of the diffusers, at the end of the present deep sea outfalls, these two parameters are met.  

If the regulation was interpreted to allow an initial dilution zone (as the Province of BC has in the past) then the current practice where the effluent is treated naturally by the marine environment will meet the Federal regulation. 

There is potential here for a challenge to the regulation. The engineered deep sea outfalls with their diffusers could be interpreted to comply with the regulation. 

This is why it is worth challenging the Federal Regulation such as by as a Judicial Review of the scientific basis for taking a “one size fits all” approach in the regulation. I urge you to consider this option if it appears that the present planning results in an unaffordable burden on tax payers for no clear benefit to the overall environment (land, marine and global).

In 2010 CRD Staff, knowing the unique receiving environment off Victoria, where the present practice has been extensively studied, made a submission in response to the draft Federal regulation in which they stated:

“We encourage the federal government to consider an environmental risk assessment approach to regulating wastewater discharges rather than the single set of proposed standards for all receiving environments. In many marine receiving environments, the application of the proposed national performance standards is unlikely to result in any measurable environmental improvement. Alternatively, we suggest that the federal government could adopt a waiver system……. that allows exemptions to secondary treatment standards in less sensitive receiving environments.”

Unfortunately the regulators chose to take a “one size fits all” approach and ignored this submission.

It would be a great benefit to the taxpayers and the environment if the CRD obtained a waiver based on the many studies of showing a minimal impact on our unique marine environment. 

You would obtain support from the published judgment of very credible Marine Scientists, several from the University of Victoria, as well Public Health Officials and Engineers that the present discharge of the screened effluent into a unique marine receiving environment, through two deep sea outfalls, is highly effective in treating the effluent.

Comment: A sensible sewage-treatment decision process (McCandless)

FEBRUARY 13, 2015

Today’s world requires the Capital Regional District to install sewage treatment, with common sense calling for the latest technology.

The CRD’s decision process thus far appears to have been to make a decision to obtain federal government financial support within the federal time limit for reaching a decision. Thus, the CRD itself made a location decision producing predictable municipal rejection.

The CRD did not apply what renowned physicist and humanitarian Ursula Franklin, having unmatched insight into the workings of society, advised in her 1989 Massey Lectures.

For dealing with decision-makers’ intended projects, she told citizens: “Don’t ask, ‘What benefits and costs?’ Ask, ‘Whose benefits, and whose costs?’ ” This means citizens holding to account.

Formalized, the Franklin questions for decision-makers’ intentions become:

• Who would gain what benefits from what is proposed, and why should they, in both the short and longer term?

• Who would bear what costs and risks, and why should they, in both the short and longer term?

Citizens need to require decision-makers to answer these questions publicly, fully and fairly, concerning intended actions affecting citizens in important ways. The obligation is unassailable.

The importance in a public issue is not only having citizens ask the right questions. Franklin set out for all citizens and decision-makers in authority the core meaning of public accountability. This shifts decision-makers’ accountability obligation from explanation after the fact, such as in after-the-fact audits and inquiries that don’t prevent a wrong act, to public explanation before decision-makers act on their intentions.

This public holding to account allows citizens to sensibly challenge the intentions and reasons, and encourages decision-makers to think carefully about the implications of what they intend as outcomes — for whom, and why.

If decision-makers, such as an organization’s governing board, answer the Franklin questions themselves and give their answers publicly, it can be expected to improve the fairness of their decision and gain respect from citizens.

For example, for proponents and opponents of a specific sewage-treatment intention, or of a particular option in the amalgamation issue, each can be reasonably expected to publicly answer the two questions for what they wish to see done.

And if members of a legislature must publicly answer the questions for their constituents before a vote on a public issue, it can make power-seeking political partisanship compliance obsolete, because citizens can tell if the public answers are fair and complete.

For proposed sewage treatment, the process of public answering of the two questions can be done within what the funding government allows as a time limit. If the decision-makers have done their jobs diligently, they will be able to publicly answer the questions, since what they know they can report.

If they don’t have credible answers to the formalized Franklin questions, the questions provide the structure for them to learn the answers and state the implications of the intention as they see them.

In Ottawa, for example, city councillors in 2012 voted 19-5 to support the mayor’s proposal for a casino in the city. They did that with no public consultation and without learning the implications of the intention that public answers to the Franklin questions would have brought out. The proposal eventually died.

- Henry McCandless of Esquimalt was a principal in the office of the auditor general of Canada from 1978 to 1996. He has professional expertise in public accountability, authoring A Citizen’s Guide to Public Accountability. He manages the Centre for Public Accountability.


No end in sight for sewage treatment planning (Langley)
FEBRUARY 10, 2015

Funding concerns for sewage treatment are looming and more planning is underway. This week, the westside solutions group is preparing for roundtable discussions on western treatment options throughout March and April.

The following World Café approach will be used: “A complex nexus that includes elements of process itself, philosophical thinking both historic and recent, a lexicon of new language, emergent social behaviors, etc.” that leads to “the hope of greening the landscape of ideas.”

At some distant moment beyond April, it is hoped an agreed western treatment scheme will rise from the green landscape of ideas like a well-fertilized rose.

The ruminating eastern group is believed to be heading for a secret cave high in Uplands where the classic Delphic oracle process will begin to divine the best eastside treatment option. When the planets are properly aligned, the eastside scheme will roll out of the cave. A design competition will begin for a new Seaterra logo based on a pair of perfectly entwined roses.

Can these happy hopes come true? The Capital Regional District sewage committee is starting a new review of all the treatment technologies under the sun. If, in several months, the technology-review findings do not support the westside and eastside dreams, what then?

The only certainty is that regional taxpayers will suffer grievously as the ever-expanding planning for sewage treatment enters its ninth year. No end is in sight.

David Langley



Most of Saanich sewage not under consideration (Wick)

FEBRUARY 15, 2015

Recent Times Colonist articles about the two wastewater study groups leave the impression that all of our wastewater is under consideration.

But a presentation made to the core area liquid waste management committee in January explains the current wastewater pipe system and presents a very different view. According to the charts in this report, there is alarming data that doesn’t correspond to what one reads is being considered.

Media reports say two groups are examining wastewater: On the east side are Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria looking at the Clover Point outfall; on the west side are Esquimalt and western communities, but notably not Saanich, looking at the Macaulay Point outfall.

But this Capital Regional District report states that Saanich accounts for 45 per cent of the total discharge at the Macaulay Point outfall.

Further, 67 per cent of Saanich’s total wastewater is going to Macaulay Point, while Clover Point accounts for only 33 per cent of Saanich’s total wastewater.

This raises the question: Since no group is looking at two-thirds of Saanich’s wastewater and the west group, without Saanich, is looking at its own, is the intention to put a plug in the 12-centimetre pipe at the border?

Darrell Wick