A better sewage treatment plan is needed to justify costs

A letter to the editor printed Feb. 24, 2008 was penned by six current and former public health officers

The recent letter, (Time costs money for sewage treatment, letters, May 15) is steeped in the notion that our present sewage system is a health risk and more expensive to build if we wait. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A letter to the editor printed Feb. 24, 2008 was penned by six current and former public health officers holding top positions within the province, VIHA and CRD.

They stated: “The undersigned public health officials (current and former) wish to make it clear that there is no measurable public health risk from Victoria’s current method of offshore liquid waste disposal. There have been claims to the contrary, but the facts do not support these claims.”

A second misnomer from that letter and something that we hear repeated by opponents of any delay to obtain a workable plan, including politicians alike, is that by waiting, the cost of the system will be higher but only the capital costs are ever compared.

In the 1992 CRD referendum on sewage treatment, the cost of secondary treatment was estimated at $518 million to be split 50/50 with the provincial government.

Half of that sum, $259 million becomes $408 million in 2012 dollars and when you add the estimated $54 million/year operating costs cited in that referendum over the last 20 years, which would have cost $1 billion and then conservatively add $300-400 million in interest payments from that six to eight per cent interest era, I estimate a cost savings of $1.6 billion by not building the system 20 years ago.

Imagine sucking that amount of money out of our economy over the last 20 years. Now imagine sucking more than $2 billion over the next 25 year as the CRD plan will do for very little benefit.

A better plan is needed to justify the cost.

Richard Atwell

Saanich