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Wednesday
Nov112015

Dr Peck's presentation to the CRD November 4th 2015

It is good to see in to-day’s reports that the design flows for future treatment needs have taken into account the water conservation that is occurring and the calculation from 225-250 liters/capita/day now reduced to 195 l/cap/day in the years 2030 and 2045.

 

It is good to see in the project charter that the intent is to minimise costs to residents and businesses (life cycle costs) as well as to provide so called “value for money”.

 

Also to produce an innovative project that brings in costs at less than original estimates.

 

I am not sure about the “value for money” when it is unclear what the benefit will be to the marine environment.  It seems the land based sewage treatment plants will be a huge cost to alleviating the minimal contamination on the ocean floor 60 meters below the surface – it is difficult to see how this will be “value for money”.

 

There has been no cost-benefit study. The result of this would be revealing because the measurable benefits to the marine environment or other benefits are unclear.

 

The charter that you have adopted expects that “there will be greenhouse gas reduction through the development, construction and operation phases and ensure best practice for climate change mitigation.”

 

It would be helpful to compare any greenhouse gas production with the minimal greenhouse gas production with the current practice of deep ocean discharge after preliminary screening.

 

The consultants state “There is a strong sentiment within the Core Area to reuse reclaimed water as much as possible.”  This may be true but is it supported by evidence for need?

 

Planning for water reclamation is a nice thing to do but surely there should be some demonstration that there is a need for this. We have an adequate supply of potable water for at least 50 years and my understanding is that with the continued climate change we may actually be getting more rainfall (particularly in winter months – like last weekend). 

 

The consultants state “It is our understanding that disinfection will be required.” This should be researched further.  Disinfection would be required if the discharge was into fresh water. Disinfection would be adding a disinfectant like household bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) before discharge into salt water (Sodium Chloride). It has been demonstrated that indicator bacteria (faecal coliforms), which would be killed by disinfection, cannot be detected a short distance from the end of the outfall diffusers. It should be questioned whether disinfection is necessary for a discharge into our unique marine environment which treats the bacteria containing effluent naturally.

 

I was pleased to see the comments about emerging contaminants in the consultant’s report.  The consultants state:

 

“That treatment processes and technologies for emerging contaminants be assessed in the future once effluent criteria for emerging contaminants of concern have been identified by the regulators; thorough analysis of options can be conducted for the addition of further treatment works at that time.”

 

CRD scientist Chris Lowe states in Appendix D (CRD FactSheet#: FS2015-002).

 

“Just because you can detect (the above) contaminants in wastewaters does not automatically mean there is an environmental or health risk associated with them. Analytical capabilities are rapidly improving and our ability to detect contaminants at

much lower concentrations (often below known risk levels) is increasing. The relative risk of (the above) classes of contaminants depends upon their propensity to

persist, bioaccumulate or have known toxicity effects. Risk assessments for emerging substances are relatively limited, but are ongoing”

 

I would like to end to-day with a quote from Charles Darwin in his revision of “The Origin of Species” in 1872 - for you to contemplate.

 

 "Great is the power of mis-representation, but the history of science shows that fortunately this power is not long enjoyed" 

 

Thank you, 

 

Dr Shaun Peck, Public Health Consultant.

Medical Health Officer for the CRD 1989-1995

Member of Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria www.rstv.ca

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