People are being advised to avoid swimming or wading in the waters of Bazan Bay in North Saanich, after the Capital Regional District discovered a hole in a sewage effluent outflow pipe along Lochside Drive.
In a media release from the CRD today, the advisory was issued after staff performing routine testing found the hole in the Bazan Bay marine outfall that discharges treated effluent from the Saanich Peninsula Wastewater Treatment Plant into the Salish Sea.
Signs have been posted, warning people to keep themselves, and their pets, away from the ocean along the shoreline between Wardle Road and Bakerview Place in North Saanich, south of Sidney along Lochside Drive.
Matthew McCrank, senior manager of infrastructure operations for the CRD says the one-inch diameter hole was discovered around 150 meters from the end of the effluent discharge pipe, which extends 1,400 meters from the shoreline into the ocean. Divers inspecting the pipe last week found the hole — apparently caused by corrosion — and noted effluent was leaking out before it reached a diffuser at the end of the pipe. He added most of the effluent still reaches the end of the pipe.
Testing showed elevated levels of enterococci bacteria levels, above the safe levels of 70 Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) per 100 millilitres of water. That maximum level is set to protect recreational users form potential illness. McCrank said there have been no reports of illness at this time.
McCrank said testing will continue as repairs are conducted and samples will be taken afterwards to ensure the area is safe for swimming again. Plans are, he continued, is to contract a company to place a band around the underwater portion of the pipe to repair the hole. In the meantime, the pipe will still be in use, as it’s the wastewater plant’s only treated effluent discharge pipe.
McCrank said the plant treats approximately 10 million litres of wastewater every day and it has no capacity to store it while repairs are done.
Working with Island Health and local municipalities, the CRD will keep the advisory in place until the repairs are complete and testing indicates the area is safe for public use.
McCrank said the pipe is inspected every five years, the last time was completed in 2015. The pipe was being tested recently, he explained, because of “efficiencies due to contracting.” He added a report is in the works on the long-term prospects of the outfall pipe — a project the CRD began prior to this leak being discovered.