Saanich mayor supports Colwood sewage proposal

Single site treatment will hurt, says Mayor Richard Atwell

One day after Rock Bay and McLoughlin Point were shortlisted as sewage treatment sites, Saanich’s Mayor Richard Atwell spoke out in favour of better, cheaper sewage options.

If the province-appointed Core Area Wastewater Treatment project board is moving forward with a single (or double) sewage treatment site, it will overspend on what is soon becoming obsolete technology, he said.

Atwell attended the Aug. 25 presentation by the newly formed Colwood Technical Team to the Core Area Wastewater Treatment project board.

The CTT presentation proposes each municipality could build its own plant, or plants.

Each plant would deliver tertiary treatment that recovers heat and electricity from the sludge’s incineration process. In the end there is a 10 per cent ash remnant instead of 50 per cent biosolid, Atwell said.

“What the CTT is proposing is how every municipality should be treating their sewage,” Atwell said. “The sewage treatment cost (CTT) is proposing would be $34 per tax payer, $50 per head in Langford, whereas the current model will be more than $500 for Saanich taxpayers,” Atwell said.

Smaller plants also provide an added ability to use the water constructively, watering fields or using it to flush toilets, such as Dockside Green, whereas one or two regional plants are restricted by the amount of water, forced to send it out to sea, Atwell added.

At this time, the Aug. 24 report put forward by the project board is based on the same proposal that suggested McLoughlin Point several years ago. It provides secondary treatment and is estimated to cost between $750 million and $1.1 billion, whereas applying the CTT proposal across the region could be as low as $350 million, Atwell said.

It suggests three potential options for the facility: a single plant at Rock Bay in Victoria, a single plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt, or two plants; one at Rock Bay and one at McLoughlin Point. The board’s final report will forward its recommendations on Sept. 7. The Capital Regional District board will then decide which option to move forward with.

If Rock Bay is used, either on its own or in tandem with McLoughlin Point, it will require hundreds of millions of dollars of piping infrastructure to get the sewage there.

Plus, it has no outfall, which will mean Cook Street or another artery that runs to the ocean will be ripped open for up to a year, so install new pipes so the effluent can be pumped out to sea from Dallas Road, Atwell said.

What the CTT ultimately amounts to can be summed up in a computer analogy, Atwell said.

It’s like using one mainframe to store all computer data. That was once the model, extremely expensive with all terminals connected to the mainframe by big, slow cables. Then came the personal computer that stores all its data locally.

Local plants would avoid the Rock Bay/McLoughlin plan to pump sludge 18 kilometres up to Hartland, and then pump the wastewater back down to outfalls.

“The CTT is a proposal that’s been third-party, peer reviewed,” Atwell said.

“I don’t know how the project board can ignore the work coming out of the CTT, it’s ground-breaking, socially acceptable, environmentally beneficial, financially beneficial.”