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Dr Peck's presentation to CRD August 12th 2015

Speaking to the terms of reference for the Independent Technical Advisory Committee.

For the benefit of the citizens and particularly the taxpayers, I hope you get advice from the very best world experts (because of the size of project) before any decisions are made on future treatment plants.

To take one part of the terms of reference.  The idea of water reclamation is technically feasible but is not needed here for the Capital Region. Why do you need expertise in this area? Just because it may be feasible?  We have an adequate water supply that will last at least 50 years or longer because of the reserve land set aside. 

Even with the continued climate change my understanding is that there will still be adequate rainwater available above the dams so why raise the expectation that you are going to spend taxpayers funds on reclaiming water – which is possible, and a good idea for areas like California, who have a water shortage problem.

The problem with the terms of reference is that there is not enough emphasis on ensuring that you will be able to get the committee’s advice on choosing the most economical solution for the taxpayer – surely that is your responsibility to state that goal. Could you not emphasise the priority of cost-containment and the least cost option? Please do not build a “Cadillac” system with all the “bells and whistles”.

In Chair Helps suggested amendments it is stated “Will advise as to how to best canvas the private sector broadly to see what solutions they have to best meet the goals of this project.” What are the goals of the project? Should they not be stated in the terms of reference? Hopefully the goal is to build sufficient land based treatment to satisfy the regulators but at the least cost possible. If you had an overall goal statement with the terms of reference it would be easier for applicants to decide whether they wish to be involved.

Based on staff presentations to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee in January this year the CRD Board had already spent $69.4 Million on planning including land acquisition. In addition you have now spent considerably more on planning with the West and East Side committees and in severance packages for the Seaterra Commission Staff. Is it not time for a bit more cost containment?

In the June 30th near final report from the Seaterra Commission I notice that the Craigflower Pump Station has been completed. A great achievement! This was needed to ensure the present sewerage system continues to cope with the volumes of sewage being generated. The Arbutus attenuation tanks have only the design completed. Why not give direction for these tanks to be constructed. If they were built then there would be less sewer overflows from the East Coast interceptor during times of heavy rainfall.

As a final note, on a different subject, I would like once again to suggest to you the potential to challenge the Federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations  such as by a Judicial Review or an appeal to the Federal Court of the scientific basis for taking a “one size fits all” approach in the Regulations. The waiver would be based on the many studies showing the present practice of discharging the screened sewage through two deep sea outfalls, 60 meters below the ocean surface, through 200 meter long diffusers has a minimal impact on our unique marine environment. I urge you to have this option as a Plan B if it appears that the present planning results in an unaffordable burden on tax payers for no clear benefit to the overall environment (land, marine and global).

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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