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

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[Sooke] Residents ask for sewer system with more treatment and no ocean outfall

Sooke News Mirror, July 16, 2003

Some Sooke residents seem to be concerned if the District of Sooke's proposed community sewer system should provide more treatment and if an ocean outfall is appropriate.

These concerns and others about the cost of the proposed system for the village core and areas such as the Broom Hill development seemed to be voiced the most at committee of the whole meetings July 7 and 8 at the municipal hall. During the two meetings council took input from the public and plan to answer questions and concerns at a public meeting in August or September.

George Butcher, in particular, was vocal in asking council to take another look at other treatment methods. Though Butcher didn't identify himself as such, he has served as the spokesman for WRATH, Worried Residents Against Tax Hikes.

However, Mayor Janet Evans said the community has to be realistic about playing cost and the extent of treatment off each other.

"You can't have it both ways," she said. "You can't have better treatment at less cost."

But Coun. John Stephen said in an interview last week that based on comments made by the public at the meetings, he's interested in investigating alternatives to the secondary treatment with disinfection and an ocean outfall that has been proposed. Coun. George OBriain said he feels council is basically committed to go ahead with the process as proposed, but he will work to upgrade the plant in the future.

Evans and Coun. John Farmer said through its request for proposals for a private partner council sought the best treatment at the best price.

"If they could have provided tertiary treatment within the budget, it would be there," Farmer said.

EPCOR Water Services Inc. has been tabbed as Sooke's preferred partner. Sooke administrator Tom Day said no contracts have been inked with the Edmonton-based company, but it is their proposal that is currently on the table.

Both Evans and Farmer said they were very comfortable with what has been proposed.

"I think we are going with the best we can at this time," Farmer said.

He emphasized Sooke can't continue to pollute the harbour and basin by ignoring failed septic treatment. He also said secondary treatment meets all of the required provincial and federal standards.

Last week the Sierra Legal Defence Fund revealed tests that showed levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 160 times greater than the provincial marine water quality guidelines for protection of aquatic life. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund is asking the Capital Regional District and the province to invest in a secondary treatment system for Victoria immediately. According to staff at the defence fund, secondary treatment removes 99 per cent of PCBs.

A technical report, completed in 2001 by Stantec Engineering for the district, recommends the ocean outfall. It estimated the capital cost of an outfall into the Strait of Juan de Fuca being $1.2 million, while the cost of disposal to land would be about $6.8 million including land acquisition.

In an addendum to that report, the capital cost differential between secondary and tertiary treatment is estimated to approach $2 million.

During last week's meetings, area resident Steve Holland suggested pumping the effluent onto hardwood forests. The member of Sooke's economic development committee said the forests could be used to grow valuable wood such as black walnut, oak and sugar maple. He feels secondary industries such as oak flooring, wooden boat building and woodcarving could also flourish.

He estimated it would take about 40 acres of land to use the effluent from 2,000 homes. Holland also suggests blending the project with the proposed sewage treatment plant and ocean outfall. He said the effluent could be pumped onto the forest during a growing period from April to October.

Peter Dixon, who lives in Victoria and owns property in Sooke, asked council to consider a treatment plant designed to reuse and recycle water. He said the water could be used for such purposes as toilet flushing and irrigation.



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