Getting the best system for the cost

Public willing to pay for improved water treatment system that also recycles the water for beneficial uses

Re: Region in need of sewage solution.

Space limitations in letters to the editor do indeed make it difficult to present comprehensive details on complex issues like the sewage treatment project, but Mr. Hull’s response characterizing the comments and issues raised in Dr. Maler’s letter and my previous letter as “misinformed swill” serves only to further illustrate the closed-box approach that culminated in the failed McLoughlin Point proposal.

Continuing with the theme of half-truths, he chooses not to mention the other benefits of using membrane technology to provide tertiary treatment, for example, several new, long, deep ocean outfalls not required; unnecessary sewage and sludge conveyance pipelines and pump stations eliminated; discharges to the sea of contaminants of emerging concern curtailed.

In his view, the strategy is simply to substitute one type of plant for another while failing to see there are other objectives and viable system alternatives that can achieve better results for less than the outdated estimate referred to.

The issue of water reuse should indeed keep coming up because water is one of our most precious resources and therefore critical to the actions we take regarding climate change, habitat protection and local food security. I am well aware of the limitations on installing purple pipe distribution systems, retrofitting toilet supply plumbing or irrigating water-logged turf during the winter rains. But these are just diversions from the critical issue he fails to mention: should reuse of reclaimed water be implemented for these or other beneficial uses, there would be a significant reduction in consumption of CRD’s potable water, hence a significant reduction in CRD’s revenue that would have to be offset by much more substantial increases in utility billings than we have already experienced. There are other uses for reclaimed water that would have limited impacts on potable water consumption but Mr. Hull has not bothered to mention them.

Mr. Hull has finally dared to ask the question that should have been asked long ago, and one that the residents could have answered then had they been provided with all the relevant details. “How much more is the public willing to pay for a distributed, tertiary treatment system with a limited improvement in effluent quality?” My answer: not as much as one with more significant improvements in effluent quality that also recycles the water for beneficial uses.

But yes, let’s wait for full disclosure of the professional’s detailed cost estimates (hoping that this time these will not be redacted) and for proper full lifecycle cost analyses – for the projects brought forward by an informed, engaged public – not one imposed by the CRD.

Oscar Regier

Victoria