Groups pleased with new money for Victoria sewage treatment plan

And call for climate change plan to include integrated resource recovery

February 19, 2008

VICTORIA, BC – Environmental groups are pleased with the BC government’s commitment to initial funding of sewage treatment for Victoria’s Capital Regional District as laid out in today’s budget.  They are calling on the Premier to go one step further and ensure his upcoming plan for climate change includes innovative investments in the recovery of heat and energy from liquid and organic solid waste.

The provincial budget committed $9 million over three years to assist the Capital Regional District in planning for treatment and procuring wastewater treatment facilities.  Though only a small part of what is needed, it is a good first step.

"These funds highlight the province’s continued commitment to stopping pollution from Victoria’s sewage," said Jim McIsaac, Clean Water Director, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.  "Under Minister of Environment Barry Penner, the BC government has shown genuine leadership and support for environmental protection by turning promises for sewage treatment into concrete action."

For years, the CRD has been releasing untreated sewage directly into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, despite widespread concerns about the environmental impacts, resulting in the contamination of the seabed around the two outfalls. The new money will be used for continue development of the CRD’s plan for treatment, including the creation of a business plan, siting of potential treatment plants and, hopefully, further efforts into bringing integrated resource recovery to the region.

In a December 2007 letter approving the CRD’s amendment of its Liquid Waste Management Plan, Minister Penner encouraged the authorities to go a step further in their efforts to implement integrated resource recovery. For this reason, while environmental groups applaud the budget measure, they are urging the government to continue its support of integrated resource recovery by investing, province-wide, in the recovery of energy and heat from liquid and organic solid waste.  

"We can do this," said Christianne Wilhelmson, Clean Air and Water Program Coordinator for Georgia Strait Alliance. "By making resource recovery from sewage and organic solid waste a cornerstone of his upcoming climate change plan, Premier Campbell would demonstrate the same leadership as his Minister."

The groups note that that a growing number of cities are demonstrating the benefits of such "resource recovery", which can contribute greatly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For example:

  • Sequim, Wash., recovers water from its sewage that meets reclaimed water standards;
  • An Edmonton treatment plant provides 1 million litres/day of water to a nearby oil refinery;
  • Stockholm, Sweden, heats 80,000 homes with heat reclaimed from sewage.

For more information, please contact:

Christianne Wilhelmson, Georgia Strait Alliance – cell: 604-862-7579
Jim McIsaac, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation – cell: 250-818-1114