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Thursday
Aug042016

Victoria Project Board Presentation August 4th 2016

Members of the project board - thank you for the opportunity to speak to you to-day.

I am Dr Shaun Peck. In the past I was the Medical Officer of Health for the CRD.

Speaking to-day as a taxpaying resident of Victoria - I implore the panel - in their report and business case that is being prepared - that you put a high priority on the interests of the taxpayer (Municipal, Provincial and Federal).

I should preface my remarks by stating that my message is similar to that presented by James Skwarok to-day. He used to be known as “Mr Floatie” when he dressed up as a turd and was an advocate for increased sewage treatment.

My plea to the panel is to recommend the least cost option.  I will put aside the fact that I have repeatedly reminded the CRD that land based sewage treatment is not needed.  

If treatment plants are to be constructed for Victoria - the McLoughlin point plan, including a second plant to process the sludge at Hartland, that was reliably costed is the best plan. This plan makes the most sense for the taxpayer.  Any other plan will have extra costs.

The McLoughlin Point plan included secondary treatment and will meet the Federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER) and will be in compliance with the 2006 Provincial order.

I have been informed, by what I consider a reliable source, that should the three companies that bid on the McLoughlin point plan not see that contract finalised and awarded that they may collectively pursue court action. This would be to recover the several million dollars that they incurred in responding to the original request for proposals for the construction of that plant. Another potential cost to the taxpayer.

In the Federal Regulations it is clear that a “one size fits all” approach was taken and there did not appear to have been any consideration of the unique situation here where Victoria’s sewage (which is 99.97% water) is effectively treated naturally by the marine environment. 

There has been an amazing amount of confusion around this issue created by decisions of the CRD’s Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee and Board.

It appears that instead of representing the taxpayer’s interests several Board members have been coopted by or lobbied by professional Engineering companies who have an interest in obtaining contracts or they are driven by a personal ideology. This has resulted many suggested technologies and in alternative sites being considered – Clover Point, Rock Bay etc.

There has been public sentiment for water reclamation which can be achieved with tertiary treatment. However it has been reported by staff and consultants this will result in greater costs. Furthermore there is no evidence for need, based on availability of water from the greater Victoria water supply area for the next 50 years.

Elected Officials have for more than 20 years been influenced by rhetoric from Washington State that has tried to shame Victoria in implementing increased land based sewage treatment.  A recent article in Focus Magazine “Washington's phony sewage war with Victoria” exposed the absurdity of this rhetoric. http://focusonline.ca/node/1083

If in a “Business Case” there is consideration of a cost-benefit it may be difficult to demonstrate a measurable benefit to the Marine Environment.

However I hope that in the proposed business case there is some attention paid to any cost-benefit or lack thereof.  The present practice with the two deep sea outfalls has been shown to have a minimal effect on the ocean floor 60 meters below the surface around the outfalls.  You must consider though that building land based sewage treatment plants will have an effect on the land (terrestrial) and global (e.g. greenhouse gas production) environments.

In conclusion – if you are going to create a business case for building land based sewage treatment plants please consider the least cost option for taxpayers. The lack of benefit and potential harm to the overall environment and the lack of credible science supporting the need, reinforces that your choice should be the least cost option.

Thank you,

Dr Shaun Peck

Public Health Consultant. www.rstv.ca

Medical Health Officer for the Capital Region 1989-1995.  

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