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Washington governor to Christy Clark: sort out Greater Victoria sewage treatment

The governor of Washington state is asking Premier Christy Clark to take action and get sewage treatment online in Greater Victoria.

In a June 10 letter to Clark, Gov. Jay Inslee said Puget Sound's 3.5-million residents have been waiting more than two decades for the province to implement wastewater treatment in the Capital Region.

"It is now more than 20 years since your Province agreed to implement wastewater treatment in Greater Victoria," wrote Inslee. "Delaying this work to 2020 is not acceptable."

In 1993, Washington state's tourism bureau boycotted major conferences and hotel bookings in Victoria to express their frustration with the pumping of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 2010, former governor Christine Gregoire agreed to support B.C.'s bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics with the promise of wastewater treatment in Greater Victoria by 2016.

Inslee added King County is directly supporting the $788-million Seaterra program by allowing its wastewater division director, Pam Elardo, to sit on the Seaterra commission.

"Left unresolved, Victoria's lack of wastewater treatment has the potential to color [sic] other regional and national issues at a time when our two countries are working to re-establish steady economic growth," Inslee continued.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak ruled out the possibility of forcing through a wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt last month, which throws the future of the Seaterra program into disarray. CRD directors must now decide whether to pressure the province further, find a new wastewater treatment site or scrap the current program altogether.

A motion put forward by Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins to suspend the Seaterra program until January 2015 was discussed in-camera by the CRD's sewage committee this morning.

That in-camera discussion will likely continue next Wednesday before any decisions are made public, said CRD spokesman Andy Orr.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

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