Victoria’s organic sewage disposal system
In 1966, the local governments of Victoria, B.C. had hired Associated Engineering and a team ofinternational scientists and engineers to build a sewage treatment plant for $175 million. Associated finished the plant in 1982, on time and on budget. The plant functions perfectly.
Marine scientists warn Justin Trudeau of scheme to scrap organic treatment
When Justin Trudeau visited Victoria in 2012, marine scientists at the University of Victoria showed him how the anti-organic Harper Tories — with support from the NDP — by changing the Federal Fisheries Waste Water Regulations, were pressuring Victoria to scrap Victoria’s simple organic system and erect an over $1 billion man-made, Rube Goldberg spaghetti patch of concrete tanks and pipelines. There and then, Trudeau promised that a Liberal federal government, when elected, would exempt Victoria from the regulations.
Invasion of the Barbary Apes
The scientists explained that a tory politician; scorched-earth NDP labor unions; selfish bureaucrats; an exhibitionist know-nothing “environmentalist” dressed up in a Halloween costume; greedy small-t tory contractors; dumbed-down sensation-mongering/entertainment-at-any-cost TV; an ignorant public; Canada’s flawed system of financing local government; and a panicked B.C. premier had fallen upon Victoria like a horde of Barbary Apes. They wanted to scrap the organic system — and put in a jerry-built, never-touched by the hand of nature, environmentally unfriendly monster that just this month doubled in estimated cost. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “boondoggle” as: “over budget, behind schedule, and unnecessary” Victoria is providing a classic example of a “boondoggle”. Fortunately the apes haven’t got to actually building the boondoggle — the bad guys have spent some $70 million, staging meetings, holding hands and avoiding cost/benefit analyses but haven’t, so far, caused any environmental damage.
How Victoria’s organic system works
The experienced engineers and scientists at Associated Engineering knew that, if humans will get out of the way and let nature do the work, nature does a far better job at many times less the cost. Like few locations in the world, the turbulent tidal waters flowing out of the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean can dissolve solids better than any man-made system. Associate designed a system to dissolve Victoria’s sewage organically in the tidal currents more than one kilometre out and 60 metres down into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Engineers can only use this natural process in a few lucky locations like Juan de Fuca; Sidney, Australia; Britain’s Thames Estuary; Honolulu; San Diego, California; and New York City. Most locations have to build large holding tanks on land, where, eventually, 90% of the solids in the sewage settle to the bottoms as sludge, burn the sludge into the atmosphere, pour the diluted liquid (still bearing a 10% to 90% sewage-to-water ratio) into nearby oceans and rivers. Nature based organic systems, on the other hand, are able to dilute sewage to a 1/10th of 1% to 99.9% sewage-to-water ratio. On time and on budget, Associated Engineering built Victoria a 100 times more efficient organic system then it would get in a man-operated plant, 7 times cheaper than a land-based one. That system was not cheap — it cost Victoria, in 2015 dollars, $175 million — but it was seven times cheaper than regional bureaucrats estimate a land-based plant will cost (and those bureaucrats have had a vested interest in low-balling their estimate).
Susan Brice – tory ideologue?
Since the 1960s, former school teacher Susan Brice has been a local provincial tory (in B.C., tories are officially called “Liberals” but the provincial NDP position them “five steps to the right of Genghis Khan”). Back in the 1960s Brice knew nothing about sewage treatment but — — she vehemently opposed natural organic treatment. We haven’t interviewed Brice and an internet search doesn’t tell you much about her political orientation — we don’t know whether or not she is a true-blue tory but her stand against organic treatment indicates she is. Whatever her motivation, as the Associated Engineering plan progressed and found political support, Brice found herself losing the argument. Even after Associated Engineering’s organic plant was built in 1992, Brice insisted on Greater Victoria holding a referendum to replace the new plant with a land-based plant. Sensibly Victorians voted down the referendum. When Gordon Campbell’s tories (aka “Liberal Party”) were elected as B.C.’s government in 2001, Campbell appointed Brice to the B.C. cabinet and Brice kept on pushing the man-made plan. Because Brice lost her seat as an MLA in 2005, Campbell could not allow her to sit any longer in the tory cabinet.
Floatie Cult and the TV Circus
Then, in 2006, along came Mr. Floatie (AKA James Skwarok ). Skwarok, a substitute teacher, had moved to Victoria from Saskatchewan and joined one of Victoria’s trendy environmental cults.
Neither Skwarok or any other cult member knew anything about sewage treatment or that Victoria had spent the better part of $200 million on it — but it was holy writ among all cult members that Victoria “dumped” its sewage — untreated — on to the beaches and into the ocean surrounding Victoria. Skwarok dressed himself up as a walking, talking piece of human waste, christened himself “Mr. Floatie”, contacted Victoria’s television stations and pranced about screeching in a high-pitched voice. The local stations loved him — the stations didn’t check the facts but Floatie entertained their audiences and the stations grabbed his coattails. Then, in TV lingo, the story went “viral”. TV stations in Washington state and Canada’s CBC and CTV fell in love with Floatie. Joel Connelly, a cranky Seattle, Washington TV commentator who styled himself a journalist, grabbed the story (and stretched it) without checking its source. Some Washingtonians feared that ocean currents were carrying Victoria’s sewage up into Puget Sound to Seattle. If someone had asked them, scientists at Seattle’s University of Washington could have told them that prevailing currents — driven by rivers coursing down from Washington’s coastal mountains — flow out of Puget Sound into the Pacific — not vice versa. Outgoing currents simply overpower any incoming tides. Washington State’s TV outlets didn’t check the facts — instead they threatened to boycott Vancouver’s 2009 Olympic Games.
LINK March 30, 2016 — The Eye Opener had interviewed Skwarok/Floatie in December, 2016. Skwarok told us he was extremely proud of the fact that for less than his $200 Floatie costume, he could force Victoria to spend $1 Billion. He admitted he had no scientific knowledge of Victoria’s sewage disposal system. He said he was relying on the observations of a scuba diver named Allan Crow. On March 30, Crow published an Op/Ed in the Victoria Times Colonist. Crow had been diving around Victoria for 35 years. In the last 10 years he’d noticed ocean visibility deteriorate dramatically and he claimed that was caused by Victoria’s sewage outfalls. The trouble is that the $175 Million Victoria sewage system and its outfalls have been operating for at least 34 years — obviously it wasn’t sewage outfalls that had clouded Crow’s visibility. Victoria’s David Goodenough and The Eye Opener’s Thomas O. Davis pointed this out in the March 30 Times Colonist. In effect, Skwarok had been conducting a propaganda campaign against a myth. If after March 30, 2016, he continues to do so he is trying to rob taxpayers and the homeless and so many others of over a billion dollars.
Gordon Campbell – B.C.’s Panicked Premier
The then B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell — recovering from an very public international drunk-driving incident and emotionally attached to the Olympics — panicked. Campbell had at his disposal all of B.C.’s (and all of the State of Washington’s) ocean scientists and the 200 person “communications” or “Public Affairs Bureau” staff he used to win elections. He could easily have mobilized his forces to clarify the facts —panic overpowered poor Campbell — he ordered Victoria’s Capital Regional District (CRD) government to build a useless secondary land-based plant that will cost more than $1-billion. In Canada, only the Federal Government can regulate fisheries and oceans, so Campbell persuaded the Stephen Harper tory Federal government to change its Fisheries Act Regulations to illegalize Victoria’s natural sewage system even though it was not harming “fish habitat” (the Fisheries Act prohibits only the harming of fish or fish habitat and the Federal Regulations are probably themselves illegal but neither Harper nor Campbell ever worried much about what was legal). Campbell agreed to force B.C. taxpayers to pay 1/3 of the cost of a land-based plant (but only up to a maximum of $267 million) and persuaded Harper to do the same. Campbell ordered Victoria’s taxpayers to pay the balance.
Bureaucrats, Unions, Contractors and Propaganda blow $16 million
If it ever gets built, construction of Campbell’s land-based plant will immensely increase the CRD regional government’s budget and staff. The plant will burden — and burden plenty — the taxpayers of Victoria but will boost the careers and pay of CRD staff. And it will employ members of some of Victoria’s NDP labour unions and tory construction companies. Because local governments get but a tiny portion of Canadian taxes — Canada’s local governments (with the exception of Manitoba where local governments are entitled to 7% of all provincial revenues with no strings attached) subsist on one-time grants from the federal and provincial governments (with lots of strings attached) which are designed to boost the popularity, power and egos of federal and provincial politicians. Nothing is more sacred to local government bureaucrats than obtaining “funding” from “senior” governments. The CRD’s “communications” staff launched a propaganda campaign to frighten Victorians with tales of jail time and heavy fines if the behemoth wasn’t built. None of the CRD’s staff had ever built a sewage plant, man-operated or organic, but they managed to spent $57-million drawing up complicated and inflexible plans to build the plant close to the waterfront of Esquimalt (Esquimalt is part of Greater Victoria). Esquimalt refused to authorize the plant but not before the CRD had secretly
purchased land in Esquimalt for $16 million. The CRD can’t build the Esquimalt plant although Greater Victoria’s taxpayers are stuck with the land and the Province of British Columbia has washed its hands of the matter. Naturally, no other community in the Victoria region wants a sewage plant in its neighbourhood.
Ignoring the scientists
University of Victoria Ocean scientists and former Victoria medical health officers are firmly opposed to the CRD plant because it is unnecessary and unfriendly to the environment. Together with former Federal Minister of the Environment David Anderson they have organized a citizen’s group (ARESST) to oppose the mechanical monster. But Victoria, U.S. and Canadian TV outlets continue their love affair with Mr. Floatie and ignore the scientists. The Eye Opener asked a number of politicians if they had consulted B.C.’s ocean scientists about Victoria’s sewage. Gordon Campbell (driven from office because of the extravagant cost of the 2009 Vancouver Olympics) ignored our email. Victoria’s former mayor, Dean Fortin, claimed that sanitary sewage littered Victoria’s beaches (in fact, it was the Victoria region’s poorly constructed and maintained storm drains that had, after a heavy rain storm, littered the beaches — even if a land-based sewage plant is built, the region’s storm drains — they have nothing to do with the region’s sanitary sewage system — will still litter the beaches). Victoria’s current mayor, Lisa Helps, refused to talk to the scientists. British Columbia’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, refused to answer an Eye Opener inquiry. The Eye Opener had heard that Green Leader Elizabeth May knew that the land-based plant was useless but feared angering Green supporters if she opposed the land-based plant. During our recent Federal Election, The Eye Opener asked Esquimalt Green candidate Frances Litman where Green Leader May stood but Ms. Litman has not gotten back to us.
Stealing homeless, transportation, health care, recreation, seniors dollars
The unnecessary land-based plant will cost Victoria $1-billion dollars or more — that’s over seven times as expensive as the original system. Homeless people are sleeping on Victoria’s streets — many Victorians can’t afford to travel to the B.C. Mainland — Victorians have to pay large health care insurance premiums unknown in most of Canada — the British Columbia government won’t contribute to recreation programs in its schools — its roads need fixing — its senior citizens are forced to pay the cost of pharmaceuticals — many of its seniors can’t afford to eat properly. And Victoria does need to clean up its storm drains. The planned $1-billion secondary sewage plant — despite its cost — will not improve storm drainage.
Please Mr. Prime Minister — keep your promise
Since Victoria already naturally and effectively disposes of its sanitary sewage using river/ocean currents, the Province of British Columbia has no say in the matter — in Canada, only the Federal Government can regulate Canada’s oceans. The Federal Fisheries Act probably doesn’t apply because Victoria regional’s sewage is not harming “fish” or “fish habitat” — a requirement for the Federal Government to regulate waste water under the Fisheries Act . The Prime Minister of Canada can quickly exempt Victoria from the Regulations which already contain exemptions covering the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northern Quebec.
Mr. Prime Minister — keep your promise — for your sake and for Victoria’s sake — it makes common-sense to change the regulations to exempt the Greater Victoria area. An exemption saves Victoria from financial ruin and helps to prove that the Trudeau the media love for being sensual is common-sensual.
- J.E.Dew – Jones. P.Eng. … Victoria’s Sewage Circus … http://www.members.shaw.ca/sewagecircus/
- Jack Littlepage, Ph.D., University of Victoria … What is Unique about Victoria? Click Here: LITTLEPAGE PRESENTATION
- Transcript of Proceedings of Special Meeting of the Capital Region of British Columbia regarding sewage disposal and marine environment held at the MacPherson Playhouse Theatre, Victoria, October 19, 1968 – all of the scientists and engineers along with concerned members of the public testified — readers should be able to have the CRD Archives email them a .pdf copy . Or — if you click on the following link — we will email you a free copy.
- Sewercide … Gene Miller … Focus Magazine, February 2016 … http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/997
- The Annual General Meeting of The Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Annual General Meeting of Sewage Treatment (ARESST) Thursday, February 25, 2016, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Fairfield Gonzales Community Centre 1330 Fairfield Road (½ block east of Moss St), Victoria, B.C. We suggest you arrive early