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CRD Director Urges Colleagues to Halt Dumping of Raw Sewage [in Victoria].

By Bill Cleverley, Victoria Times Colonist, February 8, 2001

Greater Victoria can no longer afford to hide behind questionable science as an excuse to pump 100,000 litres of raw sewage a day into the sea, says Richard Dalon, Outer Gulf Islands Capital Regional District Director.

"Forget about the studies," Dalon, a former provincial deputy environment minister, said at the CRD's environment committee meeting Wednesday. "There are no facts out there, there's only interpretations of those facts.

"The questions is, in the 21st century are people prepared to put raw sewage into the ocean. That's the question.

"I say they're not and the Americans don't want us to do it. It's going to hurt the economy of Victoria when we're dumping ours and they have tertiary treatment in the San Juan Islands. So forgetting about the scientific evidence it's simply unacceptable ethically, in the 21st century, from the public's perspective, to dump that stuff into the ocean."

CRD politicians, backed by stacks of studies, have long argued since it began its liquid waste management plan in 1989 that because Greater Victoria's sewage is pumped through long outfalls into cold, deep, fast moving water in the Juan de Fuca Strait there is no need for treatment.

That argument was borne out in 1992 when CRD residents voted in a referendum against spending millions of dollars to acquire land and build treatment plants.

This past summer, after years of preparation, the CRD completed and presented to the province its liquid waste management plan.

It calls for an emphasis on source control - taking nasty chemicals out of the effluent - along with a ocean monitoring environmental "trigger" process that would give the region five years notice of the need to build treatment. CRD officials are to meet with Environment Minister Ian Waddell March 1 to discuss the plan.

Dalon called the CRD's lack of sewer treatment "appalling."

The province will never, ever agree to that. Never." He said he couldn't velieve other municipal politicians could sit around a table and let raw sewage be dumped into the sea and pretend it's OK.

But others, like View Royal Mayor Bill Camden and committee chairwoman Langford Councillor Denise Blackwell said they've become convinced by the science.

When I first started at the CRD I ghought, as some people do as well that it is disgusting that we don't treat our sewage," Camden said. "But over the years that I've been here I've been presented with dozens of reports that it's not required. ...I think before we make statements that wil increase the pressure for us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on sewage treatment, we have to make sure around this table that if we are going to spout off about studies, that we provide those references to the staff and prove it to the rest of us that sewage treatment is required.

"It's been made quite clear to me that it's not required in the present and it might be in the future."

Blackwell said she voted in favour of sewage treatment in the referendum and said she has since changed her mind.

"I'm convinced that whe we're doing in terms of trying to improve the quality of our effluent is a more important step than spending the money that would be required for a system that may make people happy in a global sense but still won't attach those elements that are going into the pipe in the first place. That's what we need to focus on," she said.

But Victoria director Art Vanden Burg agreed with Dalon that a decision to go to sewage treatment won't be based on science.

This is about political pressure across the country and across the border and the decision is not going to be made based on science," he said.

WRATH Commentary:
  • This is clearly more than just a local issue. It also affects our american neighbours.
  • Science changes. Remember the days when huge industrial smokestacks were ok? Well, the cummulative effects of marine outfalls are exactly like those industrial smokestacks. All the effluent output into the oceanhas an impact on the immediate area around the outfall, and the contaminants travel in the ocean currents, just like contaminants travel in the air.

More articles to come. If you know of a relevant article, please contact WRATH and we will post it on this website.



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