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Otter Point Resident [Ken Pugente] willing to dig into pockets for better [sewage] treatment for Sooke
by Robin Wark Sooke News Mirror October 1, 2003

At least one Otter Point resident is willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to the District of Sooke's proposed sewer project.

Ken Pungente told Sooke council, sitting as a committee of the whole Monday night, he is willing to ante up to help the district move from secondary to tertiary treatment. Pungente feels the proposed treatment plant and the effluent that would be sent into the Strait of Juan de Fuca affects him and his community because he lives in front of it.

However, according to an analysis of wastewater treatment need and options presented to council Monday, stepping up the level of treatment might not have a big impact on the environment, though it would come with an increased cost.

Estimate costs going beyond secondary treatment


Capital Cost


$ 4.7 million

Filtration add-on

$ 750,000

BNR addition*

$ 2 million

MBR addition*

$ 2 million

Filtration and activated carbon

$ 1.2 million

*BNR is a biological nutrient removal to lower ammonia and phosphorus in the effluent.

*MBR is a membrane bioreactor to remove suspended solids and increase removal of total suspended solids, ammonia, phosphorus and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

*Source: Associated Engineering

"It is likely that most, if not all, of these improvements, would be very difficult to detect in the marine receiving environment. As a result, the reasons to go beyond secondary treatment would likely be political rather than scientific," wrote Dave Forgie, a senior environmental engineer with Associated Engineering, in his report to council. He reiterated these points at the end of his presentation Monday night.

"I'm not making a judgment. I will make some conclusions and you can agree or disagree," said Forgie, who has worked with the District of Sooke on the sewer project over the past few years.

Council did not make any decisions while sitting as a committee of the whole Monday. It is expected to give direction to staff at a Monday special council meeting on a variety of sewer system related issues, including level of treatment, connection cost administration, treatment plant site location and connection deadlines.

Also at Monday's meeting, council received a report from administrator Tom Day regarding the suggestion of building a trunk system for the entire community and then sewering specified areas as time goes on. In Day's report, which was received by council without comment, the administrator said the idea appears at first glance to be more equitable to all Sooke taxpayers but said there are a number of issues that would make it difficult to carry out.

Among the concerns expressed by Day is the cost to taxpayers as in some rural areas there are fewer payers per kilometre of pipe; a larger, more expensive pipe size would have to be used to plan for the future even though it's not needed now; a delay in the project would likely occur and the cost of additional collection system components would have to be paid for by local taxpayers.

During his presentation Forgie detailed a number of options Sooke could add on to improve the quality of the effluent. With each came a cost, which municipal staff said would have to come out of taxpayers' pockets.

"As it stands today any costs beyond what we've estimated is all District of Sooke money," municipal engineer Gary Smirfitt said. He explained the $11.6 million Canada-B.C. Infrastructure program grant was for the $17.4 million project council has proposed.

Forgie's presentation photos showed the difference in what the effluent from various forms of treatment would look like. "The effluent will look good going out - absolutely crystal clear," he said, in reference to the effluent from a tertiary plant. Forgie, answering a question from Coun. Lorna Barry confirmed Sooke could upgrade its plant to tertiary treatment in the future.

Following Forgie's presentation, Pungente stated he was in favour of sewers. But the plumber feels Sooke is not going far enough as its plan doesn't include a storm sewer plan.

Coun. John Farmer said the community can't continue to do nothing and they have to start somewhere. A Liquid Waste Management Plan is being formulated for the entire district.

Coun. John Stephen had been one of the proponents of Sooke re-examining tertiary treatment as an option. However, Stephen arrived Monday night after Forgie's presentation. Stephen and his wife were on a five-day cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco, but he opted to leave the ship in Seattle to attend the meeting. He had planned to fly into Victoria, but fog forced the cancellation of his late morning flight. Stephen turned to Plan B and along with a trio of stranded flyers he rented a car and drove to Port Angeles, hopped the ferry and once on Vancouver Island drove his own vehicle to Sooke to attend the council meeting that followed the committee of the whole gathering.



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