April 26, 2015

Processing sewage treatment in the CRD
Eastside Sewage Committee 15 April meet video
- Invite to participate in Eastside sewage planning 29 April
Invite to participate in Westside sewage planning in May
Eastside-Westside sewage split (Bodenberg)


Processing sewage treatment in the CRD

Focus Magazine
APRIL 2015

And you wonder why it all takes so much time…

The Westside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee (aka “Westside Solutions”) recently issued the results of an online survey done during December and January.

The committee, with representation from Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford, and the Songhees Nation, is attempting to evaluate options and recommend sites for potential sewage treatment and resource recovery for those communities. The survey, with 345 respondents, was conducted in conjunction with six open houses. It found that most people place greatest priority on environmental concerns. Treatment costs were chosen by the second highest number of respondents as top priority.

Respondents also prioritized “build potential for resource recovery,” and then listed the top three features as “odour control,” “hidden from sight” and “minimizing costs to taxpayers.” People were definitely opposed to shipping the solids to another location, preferring everything to be treated on the same site.

The Westside Solutions committee admitted that answers to some of the questions indicate “it is clear that continuing to talk to citizens to have a common understanding of both the issues and solutions is needed.” Towards that end, a series of roundtables and public information sessions over the coming weeks is planned. (Seewww.westsidesolutions.ca)

Meanwhile, the Eastside Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Select Committee was also attempting to move forward on public consultation by selecting 10 members for the Eastside Public Advisory Committee—one from Oak Bay, four from Victoria and five from Saanich. It purposely includes activists who’ve been deeply engaged in the sewage treatment question, as well as others new to the issue. The only mandate this citizens group has is to advise on the public consultation strategy of the Eastside’s process. Their first meeting took place March 18.

One of the more interesting exchanges on the subject of processing sewage, indeed of process itself, took place on March 11, at a meeting of the CRD’s general sewage committee (aka Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee). Chair Nils Jensen was upbraided by several  committee members for how he conducted that meeting, and CRD staff were reprimanded (again) as well.

Jensen had invited Stantec engineer Dr Robert Simm to come and talk about gasification at the meeting. (Stantec is the CRD’s project management consultant for the $788 million sewage treatment project.)

The chair spent close to half an hour interviewing Simm, somewhat like he might lead a friendly witness for the prosecution in a trial in which gasification was the accused (Jensen is a Crown prosecutor).

Saanich councillor Vic Derman, pointing out that it was the second time in three meetings in which the chair had done such a thing, said, “To sit here and listen to a back and forth between the chair and speaker for half an hour before anyone even gets to ask a question—and no presentation is given essentially—is just not appropriate.”

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins was visibly angry about the series of events that had led up to the Stantec engineer’s appearance that morning. She explained that one of the RFTIs (Request for Technical Information) received by Westside Solutions—one that advocated gasification as part of the treatment process—had been shared by CRD staff with Seaterra commissioner Albert Sweetnam, who then shared it with Stantec, who then called and questioned the technology firm—“without consultation with the submitter, without consultation with Westside.” That proponent, she said, “has now withdrawn their [RFTI] due to concerns about CRD and its research direction.”

She and Derman both stressed the need to get information from sources with varying perspectives.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell followed up by questioning what provision existed in Stantec’s contract that allowed them to review the RFTIs submitted to the area subcommittees. CRD staff at the meeting answered in part by noting the differences between “reviews” and “evaluations,” and also reassured directors that Stantec’s contract included confidentiality provisions.

But the complaints continued. Councillor Ben Isitt worried that the process was amplifying concerns and suspicions. He characterized the process as “on the razor’s edge of going completely against what staff has recommended” and admitted he himself was leaning in that direction. “Engineers aren’t the people to advise on procurement. When you go that way you get completely risky processes in terms of cost,” he said, noting that the real problem at the moment was process. He warned Jensen that, “Staff have to be advised the system isn’t working. We have to come up with a bonafide plan B to consider alongside our plan A” by early fall to ensure funding. “I think the chair has to collaborate with the dissidents on this committee to give very clear direction to staff at our next meeting on the path forward, because this isn’t it,” he stressed.

Mayor Lisa Helps then weighed in, emphasizing “the importance of collaboration and facilitating a process that’s not going to get peoples’ backs up the minute they sit down at 9:05.”

“Point taken. Thank you,” said Chair Jensen before moving to the next agenda item.

Eastside Sewage Committee 15 April meet video

Eastside's 15 April 51-minute public meet now on CRD website, with agenda: 

Invite to participate in Eastside sewage planning 29 April


Invite to participate in Westside sewage planning in May

From Westside Solutions communications coordinator:
The next phase of public engagement for Westside Solutions includes in-depth facilitated roundtable discussions about wastewater treatment for the Westside. These discussions will be broken up into three different topic areas. Each of these topic areas will be discussed on a different day and have been tentatively scheduled:
- Siting and integrating a wastewater treatment facility into an existing neighbourhood, May 6, 6 - 9pm, Esquimalt Municipal Hall.
- Resource recovery, May 9, 10am – 1pm, Colwood City Hall
- Cost and level of treatment, May 13, 6 – 9pm, Songhees Wellness Centre
There is limited space available for each of these meetings and we will be scheduling participation based on a first come, first served basis.
If you are interested in taking part in these discussions please reply to this email (info@westsidesolutions.ca) by April 24, 2015 with your first, second and third choice of discussion topic.
Please also provide your name, community of residence and phone number in addition to your email address to ensure we will be able to reach you with more information.
Westside Solutions
479 Island Highway
Victoria, V9B 1H7
Kristin Quayle, MA | Communications Coordinator
Capital Regional District | 250.360.3623 | kquayle@crd.bc.ca

Eastside-Westside sewage split (Bodenberg)

Focus Magazine

Derry McDonell’s article is both comprehensive and succinct. He gets right to the point, which is that distributed tertiary treatment is the best course for us to follow.

Things went seriously wrong for the region after February 2009, however, when the CRD received a consultant’s report claiming that distributed treatment would cost some $2 billion, or more than twice the cost of the centralized secondary treatment plan that later became Seaterra. Most members of the sewage committee jumped to the conclusion that “distributed” treatment was the same as “tertiary” treatment. They thus rejected the tertiary option as too expensive and have held that opinion tenaciously for six years.

They were wrong: the report said three times on the very first page that only secondary treatment had been considered. The committee’s error was not entirely its own. For one thing, staff did not disabuse them of their error as it should have done. For another, it was almost beyond belief that the consultant could have contemplated our spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build up to 10 distributed secondary treatment plants, and then additional hundreds of millions for new pipelines to and from McLoughlin Point. For what? More secondary treatment?

I am less concerned than McDonell about the fact that our sewage trunk lines do not conform to the boundaries of the eastside and westside subcommittees. Perhaps as early as next month the westside group will unveil the second, or technical, phase of its public engagement process. This means that tertiary treatment will at last get a public hearing, and, if the evidence is persuasive, political divisions should not matter.

I am drawn to a foreign participant in the westside program which has applied tertiary treatment to both simple municipal and complex industrial waste streams in dozens of locations on three continents. The company performs treatment in “immobilized cell” reactors, using activated carbon with metal catalysts that are more durable and maintenance-free than membranes.

The company believes it could equip the whole CRD for $350 million plus some moderate costs of in-ground pipe connections. Having been conditioned by Seaterra to accept a bill on the order of $800 million, we may feel that a much lower figure strains credulity.

On the other hand, when different levels of government agreed to share funding, they increased the appetite for funds. We must make sure that the tripartite agreement among federal, provincial, and regional governments is a genuine three-way sharing of the proper bill and not a tripling of it.

David Bodenberg