Diving into the murky waters of sewage

Fish-eye view of marine environment proves something is happening

Much of my 35-plus years of commercial fishing experience has been spent diving for octopus along the murky shorelines of the Victoria waterfront and adjacent areas.

Perhaps more than any other person, I have observed the damaging effects that the discharge of untreated sewage through outfalls located off Clover and Macaulay points has had on the local seabed and marine environment.

Just a casual glance at a ‘Current Atlas’ for the Strait of Juan de Fuca shows the currents running along the Esquimalt and Victoria waterfront are consistently weak and variable.

A more critical analysis of our current patterns and geography reveals that rather than dispersing the effluent into oblivion, the currents work effectively to settle thousands of tons of contaminated sediment on the local seabed, in both an upstream and downstream pattern from the outfalls.

This is exactly what has been happening for decades.

The evidence of this persistent siltation can be seen on the sea floor from Becher Bay in the west all the way around to Gordon Head in Haro Strait.

It is truly staggering in places.

Sad to say, I have also witnessed the steady loss of biodiversity that has accompanied it.

Many areas, once colourful and vibrant marine habitat, such as the entire Esquimalt waterfront, are now dull remnants of their former selves, where only the most silt tolerant marine life can exist.

Allan J. Crow

Sooke