The ocean’s natural ability to treat sewage…
“Our present system uses the ocean’s tides and currents to enhance its natural ability to treat our screened sewage.”
Ocean organisms digest effluent as your compost digests solid organic materials. The system is regularly monitored, poses absolutely no threat to human health, and, according to marine scientists, does not harm the ocean environment.
Ironically, a good example of how marine organisms help process natural human (and other biological) wastes is found right at the place where our misguided (or deliberately ignorant) politicians insist there is a problem — that is, at the ends of the outfalls, where the sewage plume is released.
The CRD’s own Scientific Programs Manager, Laura Taylor, says in a 2007 report to the CRD that a large bed of deep sea mussels acts as a natural monitor of the Clover Point Outfall, 1.1 Km out into Juan de Fuca Strait: “We find that close into the outfalls, the mussels are fatter and longer than they are further away, and that’s indication of health of an organism,” says Taylor.
“The other thing we look at is the actual tissues of the mussels – are they building chemicals up in their tissues from the sewage? And we don’t find that we see that. We don’t see levels of chemicals in their tissues at any level of concern.”
Amazingly, this CRD report — from the same people who are telling us all we have a serious environmental problem with our current sewage treatment system — concludes by saying:
“Overall, analysis indicated that the effluent in 2007 was similar to 2005 and 2006. After accounting for dilution, the levels of substances in the wastewater were below BC and national water quality guidelines. Surface water fecal coliform concentrations were low, indicating potential for human exposure was low. Few substances exceeded sediment quality guidelines in 2007, with concentrations above guidelines generally found within 200 metres of Macaulay Point. There were no exceedences at Clover Point. Benthic* communities exhibited some changes, mainly due to increases in polychaete worms that feed on the organic matter.
“Mussel communities were healthy and generally larger at the outfall than at the reference sites.
“These findings are consistent with previous years’ results, and with the conclusions of the 2006 SETAC panel report.”
* Benthic means growing on the ocean floor
(January 30, 2008 Report from Laura Taylor, CRD Scientific Programs Manager)
So, here we have this incredible situation where our provincial Environment Minister is telling us that that our current system of sewage treatment is causing immediate and serious environmental harm, when our own regional government scientists are clearly saying there is no problem with the current system!
Who do you believe?
…politicians like Environment Minister Barry Penner, who is clearly following orders from Gordon Campbell to make the province look like a defender of the environment (coincidentally just in time for the winter Olympics) ??
…or our own professional scientists, who have the integrity to report honestly on what’s happening out there under the water on our doorstep, and the professional qualifications to back up those statements?
“The CRD’s scientific studies have found that minor effects resulting from the discharge are observed to a limited area of sediment approximately the size of a football field around each outfall. Oxygen levels remain well above the levels needed to sustain a healthy marine environment.
“There has been little change in seafloor organisms (benthic communities) around the Macaulay Point outfall and studies of horse mussel populations near Clover Point show no harmful effects.”
source: CRD website
“The scientific evidence to date is clear (Golder, 2005): ecological effects attributable to the outfalls are small in magnitude and limited in spatial extent, do not translate into major effects on ecosystem function, are similar to North American jurisdictions with primary/secondary treatment, and may be decreasing over time.”
Peter Chapman, editorial, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2006