(Updated May 4th 2013)
The following are the Capital Regional District's plans to construct land based sewage treatment plants to serve the core area municipalities (Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Saanich, Langford, View Royal and Colwood). The decision to go ahead with the plans is supported by the political decisions of three levels of government – Municipal, Provincial and Federal. The credible judgement of Marine Scientists, Public Health officials and Engineers that the present discharge of the screened effluent into a unique marine receiving environment, through two deep sea outfalls, is highly effective in treating the effluent, have largely been ignored. See:
The CRD has a Liquid Waste Management plan approved by the BC Minister of Environment. This plan involves a treatment plant at McLouglin Point, a 18 kilometer double pipe to and from the Hartland land fill, a sludge treatment plant at the land fill and then as yet to be determined disposal of the sludge. The McLoughlin point plant will provide secondary treatment for 2x Average Dry Water Flow and primary treatment for up to 4x ADWF. There will be an additional 4 KM of pipeline from Clover Point to McLoughlin Point.
On March 20th the CRD announced that it had bought a parcel of land on Viewfield Road in Esquimalt as the potential location for a new sludge treatment plant. The CRD announced it has entered into an agreement to buy 1.7 hectares of land, in two parcels, for $17 million. The land is currently the site of Wilson Foods, next to the popular Wholesale Club warehouse, and backs onto the E&N rail line and a B.C. Hydro substation in an industrial part of the township.
There are still many uncertainties in the approved plan which staff have informed the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee (CALWMC) will need to be revised. The public has been informed that there will be Federal and Provincial contributions to the plan but there has been no public information on the legal agreements for this cost sharing and it appears as of this date this agreement has not been completed. The CRD's March 20th announcement follows several "in camera" meetings.
It is expected that the current cost estimate of the plan of $783 Million capital costs and on going $14.5 Million operating costs, which were “Class C” estimates (which means +/- 25%) will be exceeded as is the norm for mega projects of this type. There is an assumption that there will be $5 Million in resource recovery revenue in the annual operating costs but this is hypothetical.
On March 27th the CRD Board gave second reading to a loan authorisation by-law (#3887) for the borrowing of $100 Million to cover approved budgeted costs for the immediate future. On April 10th the CRD had another by-law (#3888) that will enable temporary borrowing of the $100 Million since the Municipal Finance Authority funding will not be available until the fall of 2013. Both Bylaw #3888 and #3887 were given a third reading and were approved by the Board on April 10th.
ARESST, RSTV and the STOP A BAD PLAN CAMPAIGN have repeatedly reminded elected officials at the Federal, Provincial, Regional and Municipal level that Marine Scientists and Public Health Officials have given their best judgement that there will be no significant benefit to the marine environment for this vast expenditure of public funds. The magnitude of the expenditure is illustrated by the fact that the overall cost will be approximately the cost of ten Blue Bridges. (Victoria City is currently replacing the present Blue Bridge.)
The Project team have now established an office at 510-1675 Douglas Street.
An agreement is being drafted for the purchase of McLouglin Point for the treatment plant at that site.
A study of the marine environment around the proposed new outfall at McLoughlin point has been completed. (The study has not yet been made public).
The CRD has approved the formation of a Commission to manage the project. The budget for the compensation of Commission members has been approved at $282,000 per year. (This includes a $750 per diem for members to attend meetings).
The CRD will incur an estimated $11.7 Million in temporary borrowing costs before the project is completed.
Until 2018 there will be an estimated $35 Million in operating and debt servicing costs. After this the operating costs are estimated at $14.5 Million per year.
Interest rates paid have been calculated at 1.75% for temporary borrowing and 5% for long term borrowing. The interest rate for the Private Public Partnerships part of the project - the sludge treatment facility and dual pipage from McLoughlin Point (It is also being called a Biosolids center or the “Energy Center”) will be higher because of the private financing.
The CRD has resolved to assess the local taxpayer by requisition to the member municipalities an extra $5 Million a year ahead of incurring all the costs on completion of the project. As was stated in a staff report “An orderly annual predictable increase will reduce the shock of this increased expenditure”. Without this measure there would be a significant increase incurred by the municipal taxpayers in 2018 but by doing this the CRD will be incurring the additional $11.7 Million in borrowing costs.
In the year 2013 the project management team and the Commission are planning to spend $47,376,000. The CRD recently approved $23,376,000 in additional funding to be spent in 2013.
There are still many uncertainties in this project. RSTV recommends that the following questions continue to be asked of the project.
- Given Victoria’s unique marine receiving environment will the CRD apply for an exemption to the Federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations?
- If the two treatment facilities are to be built in Esquimalt why has the CRD not negotiated to aquire DND land adjacent to the CRD's Macaulay point pump station or even land adjacent to McLoughlin point where it would be possible to build the primary treatment and the sludge treatment in one facitlity? The Macaulay point pump station area was considered earlier on in the planning but the decision was not to persue it because the negotiations with the DND would take too long.
- Which method of sewage treatment uses the greatest amount of scarce resources or produces the lowest volumes of greenhouse gases in construction, operation, maintenance and eventual de-commissioning and/or eventual replacement with more sustainable treatment system?
- If the sludge is to be incinerated what amount of greenhouse gasses will be produced?
- What chemicals will survive the incineration and be vented to the atmosphere?
- How much energy will be consumed in drying the sludge prior to incineration?
- What chemicals and in what concentrations, will be in the sludge that has to be disposed of?
- Sludge has to be disposed of, so is not sludge from a land based sewage treatment plant creating a bigger problem than the insignificant effect on the marine environment that exists at present?
- If the focus is to be on energy recovery will energy (heat) be recovered from the existing sewerage system (before treatment plants) potentially saving the cost of a major capital expenditure?
- What should be the priorities for protecting Victoria’s the marine environment – in the inner harbour, at the shoreline or the ocean floor 60 Meters below the surface?
- Will there be any significant benefit to the marine environment and therefore cost benefit from building land based sewage treatment plants?
- Given that the benefits to the marine environment will be insignificant, is building Land Based Sewage Treatment Plants a cost-effective way of protecting the marine environment?
- Is it possible to calculate a cost-benefit of this project?
- Will the public be made aware of a legal agreement for the Federal and Provincial contributions to the project? Without this agreement the CRD municipally elected officials are putting the local taxpayers at great financial risk.
- The CRD staff have provided estimates on the cost impact on municipal taxpayers based on the volume of sewage to be processed from each municipality. These costs are based on many assumptions. What will the eventual costs be to the Municipal taxpayers?
- What will be in a revised liquid waste management plan that staff have indicated is needed?
- What has the source control program prevented from entering the Marine environment – such as fats and grease, mercury, pharmaceuticals?
- What would a rainwater source control program prevent from entering the Marine environment- such as run-off from roads, industrial discharges etc.?
- To protect the marine environment should not the contamination of the shoreline have a greater priority than building land based sewage treatment plants for which there will be no significant benefit ?
- What do we know about the effectiveness of secondary sewage treatment plants in treating contaminants of concern – such as metals, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals? Each chemical of concern needs to be studied separately. Which contaminants can be shown quantitatively (by measured quantity) to be of concern before and after treatment?
- Given that the sediments in Victoria harbour are heavily contaminated due to previous industrial activity what will an environmental assessment show if the sediments are disturbed if sewer pipes cross the harbour floor?
- Will the CRD provide a written confirmation that the potential earthquake hazard affecting the McLoughlin point site has been completed and been professionally reviewed and the results published?
- What measures is the CRD completing to ensure that a plant on the McLoughlin point site will conform to Transport Canada regulations for the aircraft traffic procedures, under a new harbour airport safety plan?
- If a treatment plant is to be constructed at McLoughlin point will the design meet the expectation of Victoria (and Esquimalt) residents and tourists entering Victoria harbour?
- Before the CRD begins any construction of the plant (after 2013), a complete EIA under the BCEAA and/or CEAA must be initiated, together with public hearings, must then be completed, must be submitted to both provincial and federal environment ministers for their review and then their approval before any construction begins. Will that be done and when will it be initiated?
- What are the conclusions of the latest (2010) Marine Monitoring report of the two deep ocean outfalls at Clover and McLoughlin point?
- Will a Health Impact Assessment be carried out for this expenditure and the treatment plants as advocated for by the Regional Medical Health Officer, Dr Richard Stanwick?
- Will a full, independent environmental impact assessment be completed for the sludge treatment plant (known as the Energy Centre)? Because the Energy Centre includes several processes that are not part of sewage treatment (i.e., phosphorus recovery and a Waste-To-Energy plant), it cannot be covered by the inadequate environmental review under the Municipal Sewage Regulations.
28 February, 2013 (Updated May 4th 2013)