More on the Victoria Sewage Debate – Comment on Times Colonist

The propaganda campaign continues from the people in Victoria that want to stop the idea of doing better sewage treatment. For those not current on this problem, Victoria is the only major metropolitan area in the entire Salish Sea that is not treating their sewage, but dumping approx. 82 Million liters of raw sewage a day, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There have been numerous letters from noted scientists, politicians, citizen activists, and average people, demanding a change to this and the building of a sewage treatment plant. This has been going on for decades, as the problem worsens.

Today, the Times Colonist, published a letter from a former District Medical Health Officer (89-95), Dr. Shaun Peck, who claimed “many studies have shown that this practice has minimal impact on the marine environment and the plume cannot be detected 400 meters (1312 feet) from the end of the outfalls).”

A quick search of Youtube comes up with a video made by a diver, showing the accumulated sewage sediment on the seabed and marine life 5 kms (16000 feet) away from the McCauley Point outflow.  It hardly looks like healthy normal marine sediment you would expect in areas not near an outfall.  The diver has over 35 years of experience diving this area, as he discusses in the narrative. While not a scientific sampling, the narrative history, along with the science that has been discussed by numerous PhD level scientist who have come out in agreement with a new treatment plant, points to an ongoing history, told by numbers and by visual evidence of those who have dived the area, make a story that is hard to ignore.

Additionally, many samples checking for coliform bacteria up to 10 kms from the outfalls are showing numbers vastly higher than safe levels.

The YouTube Video by diver James Skwarok

Additionally, let’s review more facts of today, not 1991 (which Dr. Peck relies on).

  • Environment Canada has closed 60 square kilometers around the outfalls to all shellfish harvest;
  • The plume from the outfalls hits the water surface under various conditions, which raises concerns for humans who are engaging in primary contact recreation in these areas (wind and kite surfers)
  • Toxicity tests show that Victoria’s sewage is toxic to rainbow trout fry, water fleas, blue mussel larvae, and oyster larvae;
  • Nineteen chemicals found in the sewage are  found on the seafloor and exceed  the Contaminated Sites Regulation. For any one exceedances a site is considered to be sufficiently contaminated to be designated as a contaminated site;
  • Twenty-eight chemicals found in Victoria’s sewage are in concentrations that exceed water quality guidelines for the protection of fish and aquatic life, some exceed the guidelines by nearly 85 times;
  • Toxicity tests at Macaulay Point outfall indicated exposure to sediments from this location resulted in significantly reduced survival or growth of polychaete worms and survival and normal development of blue mussel larvae; and
  • No studies have been conducted in the vicinity of the two outfalls to evaluate the effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products on aquatic organisms or aquatic-dependent wildlife.
  • (all from http://www.victoriasewagealliance.org/index_files/FactsVictoriaSewageAlliance.htm)

And to clarify for Dr. Peck, as it is  stated at the   Victoria Sewage Alliance web site, “dilution does not get rid of what’s in sewage (organics, pathogens like hepatitis, heavy metals or chemicals) ”

Dr. Peck refers to a book from 1991 called the “Victoria’s Sewage Circus” as some kind of scientific treatise on the subject, ‘providing evidence of the …effectiveness” of the system, but the book, which is available on the Internet for free today, is a lightly written attack on anyone claiming to believe that the then current system of outfall is not adequate. It uses a lot of science that goes back many decades previous to the 1991 publishing of the book, and using this as some kind of reference guide, is using seriously outdated and non specific data. For example, there are no actual pointers to specific scientific peer review capable literature in the book, and there is no bibliography or source reference listing to find the original science that the author is referring to. Much of the book reads not much different than a generalist wanting to convince the unconvinced, rather than putting real scientific data on the specifics of the Victoria outfalls in front of the reader. It adds nothing new to the debate. The book can be found here: http://www.members.shaw.ca/sewagecircus/index.html 

Dr. Peck goes on to claim,” We do not have industrial runoff such as that which occurs from the Duwamish Canal and other sources in Puget Sound.” again without referring to any study or the particular runoff  that would prove that  claim. To be clear, Victoria most definitely has industrial runoff, if nothing else waste from dry cleaners, that may use PERC in their facilities, for example.  It may not have a Boeing plant, or some such industry particular to Seattle, but the Dr. needs to clarify what chemicals that Seattle has flowing into the Dumawish today, not 50 years ago, that Victoria doesn’t have.

So when you read things like Dr. Peck or run into friends in Victoria that don’t support the building of the sewage treatment plant (yes, I’ve met young people who claim to be very environmentally aware and who think that the current situation is just fine), please point them to facts that can help them understand the problem, and why people like Dr. Peck, for reasons that are really not clear, joins a contingent that is still in denial about something that many other scientists have clarified. This deflecting  of Victoria’s lack of sewage treatment by saying that those of us in Washington State have not solved the problem any better, quoting from  People For Puget Sound (of which I was a board member for a number of years) to prove a case that is not even being made (the issue being debated  isn’t comparing Duwamish industrial  water run off with Victoria sewage) is pure propaganda. We in Washington state recognize the problems and are working on solving them, even when they likely include having to fix Victoria’s fecal coliform and heavy metals, etc. issues that end up in our waters. It’s time we stop pretending that what comes out Victoria’s outflows somehow doesn’t effect us here. For one thing, the fish that pass through that sewage don’t just stay there. We likely eat them. So we should be celebrated for taking on the hard work, instead of ridiculed.

If any of you need more convincing that Dr. Peck is either purposely or not, feeding the propaganda machine for not spending the money to build a better treatment system, and allowing Victoria to join the rest of the cities around the Salish Sea that have recognized the threat of untreated sewage in total to the health of the Sea, then I direct you to the numerous letters of support, along with more facts and studies, at the web site run by the Victoria Sewage Alliance, http://www.victoriasewagealliance.org/index.htm

The article in the Times Colonist by Dr. Peck is here.

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-crd-should-seek-waiver-of-federal-sewage-rules-1.2038020

Victoria eyes back-to-basics approach on sewage treatment – TImes Colonist

It appears our neighbors to the north who can’t seem to understand why people are upset about them dumping raw sewage into the Straits, have a new mayor who wants to take the whole thing back to square one and consult the public about sewage treatment. Problem, is the city is likely to lose billions of federal funding to help them, and risk making it even more expensive for Victoria taxpayers. This pathetic state of affairs seems to show that government has been become incapable of protecting the Straits, and perhaps an international lawsuit, based on the Boundary Waters Act of 1905, is in order here. These are shared waters and we have done our bit, along with every other Canadian city on them, to clean up our acts. Enough is enough.

 http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-eyes-back-to-basics-approach-on-sewage-treatment-1.1683950

Sea otter caught on camera in rare sighting near B.C.’s Georgia Strait – CBC News

Good news to see that they are being spotted in the Strait.

Cheryl Alexander almost couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted a sea otter frolicking and feeding in a cove off Ten Mile Point in Victoria, B.C., Thursday morning.

A poopy promise: B.C. premier vows sewage treatment for Victoria — someday – Seattle Times

If you ever needed proof that the only way to judge a politician is by their actions not their words, this is it. The likelihood of the Federal Government of Canada ending federal funding because of the sewage problem, is zero. Talk is cheap, action is hard.

“We have made it clear that sewage treatment will happen. That is not up for debate. Failure to comply with these obligations would result in the possible loss of provincial and federal funding, as well as other potential penalties under federal and provincial laws. Thank you again for writing, and I am pleased to provide you with this response.” — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. (Seattle Times)

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2014/07/28/a-poopy-promise-b-c-premier-vows-sewage-treatment-for-victoria-someday/

Kilmer urges EPA to seek end to Victoria dumping untreated sewage into Strait of Juan de Fuca – PDN

Long overdue. Thanks to Rep. Kilmer for making this an issue.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer has urged the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to stress with the Canadian government the importance of a quick solution to the continued dumping of untreated sewage near Victoria into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Kilmer, a Port Angeles native and Gig Harbor Democrat whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, sent a July 3 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking that she raise with the Canadian government the need for “a speedy resolution” to Victoria dumping about 34 million gallons of raw sewage per day into the Strait directly across from the North Olympic Peninsula. Jeremy Schwartz reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140709/news/307099986/kilmer-urges-epa-to-seek-end-to-victoria-dumping-untreated-sewage

In Washington state, Victoria sewage hits the fan – Times Colonist and King TV

Our Governor reaches out to BC and asks for their help to bring Victoria up to modern specs of sewage outflow.  Come on Victoria, get your act together or stop pretending you care about the environment. I was just up there and they are so proud of their environmental protections. This is one glaring hole in the tapestry.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/In-Washington-State-Victoria-sewage-hits-the-fan–262800061.html
Washington Governor Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine sent a strongly worded letter to Canadian authorities over a yet to be stemmed flow of raw sewage into Puget Sound waters. “As the Governor of the state of Washington and the Executive of King County, we are very concerned by the lack of progress in treating wastewater and protecting the health and habitat of  Puget Sound,”  they said in the letter sent to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. The letter comes in response to an announcement last week that a deal for a new sewage treatment plant to be built to serve the rapidly growing Victoria area had fallen apart. That announcement comes 20 years after Canadian officials first announced plans to build a facility. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

See also: Washington governor urges action on capital region sewage plan http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/washington-governor-urges-action-on-capital-region-sewage-plan-1.1125746Lindsay Kines and Bill Cleverley report. (Times Colonist)

Victoria Sewage Treatment gets another Setback – Times Colonist

So once again, Victoria’s sewage treatment facility is delayed, due to zoning issues. This was a known hazard for them going in and they attempted to steamroll over the opposition. Now they need to find an alternative plan. Years will go by as the poop of Victoria continues to pour out into the Strait, with all manner of pollutants in it.  While all of us along the Strait pay high taxes to treat our sewage, and take the solids to landfills, Victoria continues to be the major polluter on the Strait with no end in site. Amazing that in 2014 this is even an issue. But there you have it. Canada continues to be the model of what not to do in environmental protection.

Victoria sewage plant won’t get provincial push

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/victoria-sewage-plant-won-t-get-provincial-push-1.2655847

B.C.’s Environment Minister Mary Polak says she will not intervene in the fight over where to put Victoria’s new sewage treatment plant. “After giving the request due consideration, the province will not attempt to override the zoning decisions of the duly elected Esquimalt council, said Polak in a statement issued on Tuesday morning. The Capital Regional District asked Polak to step in last month, after the Township of Esquimalt refused to rezone land at McLoughlin Point, which the CRD purchased last year at a cost of $4.6 million. The move, which effectively blocks plans to build on the site, leaves the CRD without a location for the plant, after eight years of planning. The CRD has been ordered by the provincial government to have a plant up and running by 2016. The federal government has set its own deadline of 2020. Mike Laanela reports.

(CBC) See also: CRD drops plan to build sewage plant in Esquimalt, next step unclear http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/crd-drops-plan-to-build-sewage-plant-in-esquimalt-next-step-unclear-1.1076722 Bill Cleverley and Lindsay Kines report. (Times Colonist)

And watch: Dumping Raw Sewage is Not Okay

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV7M_kGZ0Lg

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