Time costs money for sewage treatment

Delays make for cost increases

A few weeks ago a volunteer arrived at my door seeking donations to support UNICEF water purification projects.

This dedicated youth explained that untreated sewage and poor sanitation is the leading cause of illness and death in many developing nations.

Imagine her surprise when I informed her that here in the Garden City, this beautiful capital city, we don’t treat our sewage – we discharge our sewage (containing millions of disease-causing bacteria and other pollutants into the ocean).

This is a true story, of which I am painfully familiar. There is a smaller coastal community, about 15,000 residents, facing the same issue. For more than 30 years, residents and opposition groups took actions that delayed building a sewer system and treatment facility.

Study after study was completed; and project after project was proposed, designed, financed, then abandoned when a new slate of decision-makers was elected.

The technical details of each project varied little. Let’s face it, there are only a handful of ways to collect and treat sewage.

One consistency remained – each project was significantly more expensive than the last due to the passage of time and increased costs of construction. After defaulting on government loans, the governing agency filed bankruptcy.  Eventually, the $48M project became a $220M project and the local homeowners were saddled with monthly rates exceeding $200.

A modern and well-maintained sewage treatment facility is the most significant piece of infrastructure in a community, protecting both public health and the environment.

After all, it takes a foul waste, extracts resources and renders the remainder harmless. I could be proud of that.

I hope our elected decision makers will move forward to complete the sewage treatment facility and turn this issue into one of community pride.

Sorrel Marks

Oak Bay