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TíSou-ke may abandon green system in favour of Sooke sewers
By Bryan Dreilich for Sooke News Mirror May 9, 2001

The District of Sookeís proposed sewage system may pre-empt a "greener" option that was being explored by the TíSou-ke First Nation for their reserve.

The TíSou-ke Nation was looking into installing a solar aquatic sewage system on its reserve off McMillan Road before Sooke council announced its plan for a $24-million community sewage system for the town core, according to TíSou-ke band manager Wally Vowles.

With the municipalityís proposed treatment plant expected to be built next to the reserve, Vowles said the First Nation is now considering hooking into the planned municipal system.

"It would be the prudent thing to do, and cost-effective," said Vowles, who sits on Sooke sewage steering committee.

Sooke administrator Tom Day said the TíSou-ke band has provided the municipality with a letter of support for the sewer project.

Day said council will gladly entertain negotiations with TíSou-ke for joining in the undertaking. He said the band would be contracted to pay on a volume basis.

"Theyíd pay part capital and part operating costs and maintenance," he said.

However, despite the letter of support the TíSou-ke First Nationís involvement is not a forgone conclusion. In addition to cost considerations, the TíSou-ke Nation also wants assurances that the proposed sewage outfall will be environmentally sound.

"The TíSou-ke Nation cares most of what quality [of effluent] is coming out of the [outfall] pipe. Weíd definitely like to see the harbour improve," Vowles said.

At a May 1 Sooke committee-of-the-whole meeting held at the TíSou-ke band hall, band councillors questioned the districtís choice to use secondary treatment instead of tertiary treatment for the effluent.

"The bottom line for me and elder Frank Planes is that we want to see an honest attempt to improve the harbour," TíSou-ke chief Linda Bristol said.

Mayor Ed Macgregor responded by saying tertiary treatment is still an option for the future.

"Currently there will be secondary treatment, plus disinfectant. There is nothing that prohibits adding on more in the future if itís needed," he said.

For now, the TíSou-ke Nation is "keeping one foot in each boat," Vowles said.

If the municipalityís infrastructure grant application fails ( a decision is expected in mid-June), if the cost to the band to connect to the municipal system is prohibitive, or if it proves to be less than environmentally sound, the band will resort to its original plan for a solar aquatic system.

A solar aquatic system uses a greenhouse that houses a series of tanks used for removing nutrients, synthetics, organics, and metals.

The system would treat waste water in a chemical-free manner, using natural purifiers such as algae, snails, bulrushes and minnows. As a result, studies indicate the water can be returned to the ground virtually free of impurities.

Vowels said the collected nutrients can be used to offset the costs of operation, or even make money off it," he said.

A solar aquatic system is currently being used in Bear Lake, Nova Scotia, according to Vowles, who said it had positive results as a visually attractive, odour-free facility located in the heart of the village, along the shore of the river.

Vowles said that even if the band does choose to hook up to a district sewer system, the research towards a solar aquatic system would not go to waste. It might eventually be installed on the TíSou-ke Reserve off Lazaar Road.



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