Look back for guidance on sewage treatment
Letter from Dr. Chris Garrett, Times Colonist, 11 July 2010
In September 1994, the B.C./Washington marine science panel released its report, based on the input of dozens of marine scientists on both sides of the border.
The report listed priorities for the protection of our shared waters, while finding the impact of Victoria’s sewage discharge is negligible.
A Times Colonist editorial on Sept. 8, 1994, quoted then-premier Mike Harcourt as stating that the province was still committed to a 15-year timetable to acquire a site and move toward treatment.
But the editorial also said, “Before you start spending any serious sums of our tax dollars on a treatment plant, Mr. Premier, you had better be damned certain there is a scientifically corroborated need for it.” This need is still absent.
Sure, the influence of wastewater discharge can be detected around the deep outfalls, but Victoria’s effective source control (much improved since 1994) and screening, combined with oceanographic conditions, mean the contamination is minor and no more than that around the outfalls from municipalities with land-based secondary treatment. Moreover, the CRD’s own scientific investigations show marine life around the outfalls is thriving.
There is no valid scientific justification for the provincial order or the “one size fits all” regulations proposed by the federal government.
It will be tragic if hundreds of millions of dollars are squandered on an unnecessary, destructive land-based sewage treatment plant, leaving no resources or public appetite for measures that really would improve the health of the marine environment.