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


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Is Sookes Sewage System a Need or a Want?

Editorial in the Sooke News Mirror, November 1, 2000

There's a big difference between wants and needs and as it stands right now we're not sure into which category a community sewage system falls.

Sooke mayor Ed Macgregor said at a Monday nigh public meeting that the water quality studies conducted for the Capital Regional District have pegged water quality as "unacceptable year after year after year."

Have we, at this newspaper, missed something?

Oh, how we would have loved to have published a story exposing the horrid conditions of our harbour and basin.

But in 1996, Stephen Cross of Aquametrix Research Ltd., during a review of the five year Sooke Harbor and Basin Water Quality Monitoring Program, pronounced the Sooke Basin to be "in pretty good shape."

Cross did indicate that there were some localized pollution problems, but he also pointed to the causes, and failing septic fields were not a major concern.

A later CRD Storm water Quality Survey found that two of 104 fresh water discharges tested in 1997-98 contained high levels of fecal coliform.

A further 28 sites were considered to have a moderate level of fecal coliform.

The other 74 sites were rated low.

This can definitely be considered a problem, perhaps even "unacceptable" to hard-line environmentalists, but it's hardly a crisis that demands throwing $15 million, or even one third of that, at without good reason. We agree that a sewage system should be on the community wish list.

But we must also make sure we can afford this "want." For the next four years, Sooke's budget will continue to be propped up by various grants afforded to fledgling communities.

A $15 million capital cost [now up to $24 million] is a daunting expenditure, not to mention annual operating and maintenance costs.

There's also talk of community road improvements which could cost a bundle.

If poor water quality isn't a mitigating factor, then other benefits like land values and development potential certainly play a greater role in this equation.

In addition to water quality studies, a cost/benefit analysis should be conducted to prove that spending money on a sewage system is a step in the right direction at this point in the municipality's very short history.

WRATH Commentary:
  • Other causes of contamination include coliform from hobby farms, marinas, and resident birds in the estuary, which are in the same areas as the hot spots.
  • Even our drinking water source at Sooke Lake is contaminated by coliform from birds and mammals, which is a major problem to the CRD in the recent risk assessment by Acres Consulting.

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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