Outfall areas back in sewage treatment plant mix

Anyone hoping to see Rock Bay named the site for a main sewage treatment plant would have been left wanting on Friday.

By Don Descoteau

Anyone hoping to see Rock Bay win the day and be named the site for a main sewage treatment plant for Greater Victoria’s core municipalities would have been left wanting on Friday.

The Capital Regional District’s (CRD) core area liquid waste management committee did, however, approve a recommendation that may offer flexibility in siting and technology options. The decision included a revisiting of McLoughlin, Macaulay and Clover points, three locations not previously being considered.

With no agreement around the table on the best option, and the $1 billion-plus cost of each option presented to the public a major stumbling block to a decision, the committee split up the six parts of a staff recommendation rewritten by Victoria mayor and committee chair Lisa Helps. The recommendation was heavily amended during discussions at the nearly five-hour meeting.

The two parts relating to location, and the application of alternate technologies and solutions for chosen sites, were referred to CRD engineering staff. They will investigate the feasibility of the new options and provide committee members with more substantial details in time for discussion at the next committee meeting March 9, the day the committee is scheduled to bring a progress report to the full CRD board.

“I think there’s a lot of work that’s been done today,” said Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, who also co-chairs the Westside select committee.

“I think that what we’ve done, by kind of broadening the options –— even though I’m concerned that these are sites that have been (considered), then taken away or maybe not put up at all and not had the public consultation … we’ll figure out how to get through those kind of details.”

The first element CRD staff will be investigating leaves Rock Bay as the site for a central treatment plant and Colwood as the site of a smaller tertiary plant. But alternatives being costed out include a tertiary wastewater plant at either McLoughlin or Macaulay points, and a tertiary treatment plant at Clover Point, with provision for a tertiary plant on the westside.

Hartland landfill in Saanich is shown as the preferred site for sludge (biosolids) processing.

Part 2 of the referral to staff deals with inviting submissions of project concepts that relate to everything from new technologies to integrated resource management, and provide enough detail to compare them to the base case, which in this situation is Rock Bay.

Cost, especially the apportioning to municipalities, was equally a concern for Hamilton. Her city’s taxpayers are roughly 70 per cent on septic and 30 per cent on sewer and many wouldn’t look kindly on being billed for something they weren’t receiving service for.

“At least it’s keeping options that are viable on the table (and) what we heard from the public; it’s about cost control on things,” she said of the overall picture. “So if there are cheaper solutions to be had by building closer to outfalls, it makes sense that we’re going to actually see that. I’m hoping that we get real kinds of costings and not these planning estimate costings out of engineering that are sometimes up as high as 90 per cent contingency.”

Also Friday the committee voted postponing until March 9 to give a progress update to senior levels of government and finalizing, with CRD board approval, the option to purchase the Rock Bay lands subject to it being selected as the primary site.

Passed on the day were the dissolving of the eastside select committee and the retaining of the westside select committee for the completion of technical work around wet weather design flows; and a directive to staff relating to procurement and project management.

Washington State legislator Jeff Morris recently proposed a bill that would see employees of state agencies not reimbursed for any travel to Victoria until the city has a primary treatment in place.

If the bill passes, it will be in effect until Victoria has at least primary sewage treatment in place.