Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.


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Sooke Public Objects to an Outfall
at the Pubic Meeting October 30, 2000

by Mitch Moneo is the Sooke News Mirror, November 1, 2000

An outfall placed a kilometre or more into the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the cheapest way of disposing of treated sewage effluent collected from the town core.

It is also the most contentious means of disposal judging from comments made at Monday night's public open house.

Stantec project engineer Anne Pool unveiled a draft report that explained various treatment, collection and conveyance, and disposal options for a proposed sewage system.

However, most of the crowd at the packed open house was fixated on the option of a sewage outfall as a means of disposal.

"Council hasn't come to say any conclusion on what the best form of discharge is," Sooke mayor Ed Macgregor stressed at the meeting.

However Pool said, based solely on economic considerations, she has formed a "partial recommendation" calling for the disposal of good quality effluent into the strait.

Of the four disposal options presented to the pubic: seepage beds; spray irrigation to crops and parks; trickle irrigation to crops and parks; trickle irrigation to Otter forest; and an outfall; the estimated capital cost of an outfall was substantially cheaper.

Depending on whether the outfall ran from the T'Sou-ke Reserve #2 or neighboring property, the cost would be between $1.2 and $1.6 million.

In comparison, the next cheapest disposal option - septage beds would cost about $6.8 million. Spray irrigation would cost $8 million and trickle irrigation would come with an $8.5 million price tag.

It should also be noted that the options other than an outfall are contingent upon finding suitable land.

Pool also presented four scenarios of swage system options, three of which are based on an outfall [no surprise there], and one which relied on seepage beds. While the outfall options all carried an estimated price tag of $13.6-$16.6 million, the seepage bed system cost $19.9 million.

Some in the crowd questioned the need for a sewage system.

"You've spent $40,000 looking at options without telling us what the problems are," George Butcher, a vocal opponent of a sewage outfall said. "Where are the facts and the reports that explain why we need a sewage system?"

Macgregor said results of water quality studies of the harbour and basin commissioned by the Capital Regional District have "been unacceptable, year after year after year," [The studies cannot link poor water quality to faulty septic tanks because there are other sources of contaminants].

However, others disagreed.

""I've looked at these studies and while there are some hot spots for fecal coliform around marinas and waterfront industries, the town core is where the minority of the pollution is occurring." Kim Kerns said.

Kerns questioned how much of the pollution problem would actually be remedied by a sewage system servicing the town core.

Macgregor said the municipality hopes two-thirds of the cost of the system would be picked up by federal and provincial cost-sharing. The other third, about $5 million would be borne by taxpayers, specifically those who use the service.

Macgregor committed the district to holding a referendum to decide which system option, if any, be implemented. Only those property owners within the service area would be eligible to vote.

This also brought condemnation from some residents outside the service area who said an outfall would adversely affect them and that they should have a say.

One resident Ellen Lewers, [a known supporter of Councillor Janet Evans] supported the outfall option. Lewers said outfalls are much more environmentally friendly than many assume they are.

However, others like Byron Tweedy, said the general public perception is negative, and it would detract from the community's image.

"It is better to leave things the way they are and have visitors leave with the image of Sooke as a place with smell failed septic systems?" Macgregor asked.

WRATH Commentary:
  • The public questioned the need for a sewer system, the evidence, and most opposed a sewage outfall.
  • How can Mayor Ed Macgregor in good conscience, tell Keith Martin that the community supports a sewer system and outfall?
  • Prior to the public queston and answer period Judith Burke of Sooke asked Mayor Ed which option he prefers. His personal preference is for "secondary treatment and a sewage outfall."
  • Ed also promised Judith that the sewer study report would be available to the public the next day; it was not. Then Ed told Judith that it would be available after they include the feedback from the public forun on October 3o; it was not. The report was finalized November 27, 2000, and was not available to the public until March, after the council meeting in which Mayor and council unanimously voted to go ahead with the sewer system and renage on the referendum.
  • As of the council meeting on March 12, the estimated cost is now $24 million dollars, which is a significant increase from the original estimates.

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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