OPEN LETTER TO THE CITIZENS OF VICTORIA, OCT. 23, 2013:
YOU ARE BEING MISLED ABOUT SEWAGE TREATMENT
The October 3rd media release(1) by Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA), TBuck Suzuki Foundation (TSF), and David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) presented misinformation suggesting that Victoria’s current system of natural marine treatment needs to be replaced.
In a subsequent October 4th CHEK TV news-cast(2), retired UVic microbiologist Dr. Ed Ishiguro presented informal test results that were neither scientifically peer-reviewed nor published.On the same news-cast, CRD director Judy Brownoff cited his tests to support her promotion of the CRD’s sewage plan.
ARESST offers the following documented clarifications:
- Dr. Ishiguro, GSA, TSF, and DSF compared(3) fecal coliforms in local marine sediments to fecal coliform water standards (from Health Canada,(4) US EPA, and WHO).
- They were negligent to apply water quality standards to evaluate sediments.Their claims of contamination and threat to human health are therefore unfounded.
- Their claim that human fecal coliforms traveled 2-10 km is absurd. The marine environment is hostile to coliforms from the human gut.(5) A peer-reviewed analysis of 1700 samples found no evidence beyond 400 metres of fecal coliforms from Victoria’s outfalls(6).
- Fecal coliforms from plants and animals exist throughout the marine environment.(7) Their presence in sediments off William Head or Trial Island is no more related to Victoria’s outfalls than sediment coliforms off Tofino or Alaska.
At an October 9th sewage meeting(8), in response to a query from Director Brownoff, CRD science staff reported no problems with fecal coliforms – thus contradicting Ishiguro, GSA, TSF, DSF, and herself.
The CRD offers many scientific studies online(9) confirming that Victoria’s current method of marine treatment is essentially as effective as secondary treatment. Victoria’s system already meets the objective of the new Federal regulation(10) because there is no evidence of a threat to fish, fish habitat or human health due to consumption of fish from the waters around Victoria.
Citizens should be outraged that the majority of CRD Directors voted NOT to invite experts(11) to explain all this evidence to the sewage committee.
Citizens should be equally outraged that our elected representatives are not using this abundance of scientific evidence to make the case to Ottawa that it is senseless to continue to force Victoria to build a costly and unnecessary land-based treatment system.
(1)Media Release. October 3, 2013. “New tests show vast contamination – Get building Victoria’s Sewage Treatment System now.”
(2)October 4, 2013. CHEK Sewage Contamination.
(3) Media Release. October 3, 2013. “New tests show vast contamination – Get building Victoria’s Sewage Treatment System now.“ and October 4, 2013. CHEK Sewage Contamination.
The comparison is also implied in the undated table from Dr. Ishiguro below, presented on UVic letterhead.
(5) i) Merv D. Palmer (2000) “Analyses of Sediment Bacteria Monitoring Data from Two Deep Ocean Raw Wastewater Outfalls, Victoria, BC,” Canadian Water Resources Journal, 25:1, 1-18,DOI: 10.4296/cwrj2501001.ii) “One concern of using the coliforms to assess water quality is that they rapidly die off…upon entering into marine waters.” John H. Paul, ed., “Marine Microbiology,” Academic Press, 2001, p. 544.
(6) i) Merv D. Palmer (2000) “Analyses of Sediment Bacteria Monitoring Data from Two Deep Ocean Raw Wastewater Outfalls, Victoria, BC,” Canadian Water Resources Journal, 25:1, 1-18,DOI: 10.4296/cwrj2501001. ii) “Also cautionary is the persistence of indicator organisms in sediments, which leads to elevation of their densities and a false indication of recent pollution in the water column after events such as rain storms, construction, or recreational use.”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1151827/
(7)“Coliforms are ubiquitous…” See: “Microbes and Urban Watersheds,” Watershed Protection Techniques,” USA EPA, Vol 3, No. 1, 544-565, 1996, p. 69.
(8)This meeting was videotaped. Please contact ARESST Chair Brian Burchill (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
(9)The CRD Annual Reports (2001-2011) monitoring Macaulay and Clover Points are at: http://www.crd.bc.ca/wastewater/sourcecontrol/goals.htm. The CRD Annual Reports (2003-2009) monitoring the source control program are at: http://www.crd.bc.ca/wastewater/sourcecontrol/goals.htm
(10)http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2012/2012-07-18/html/sor-dors139-eng.html See under Objectives, under Regulatory Analysis Impact Statement
Table confuses measures of coliform standards in sediment versus water, “chalk and cheese”: