Province misses the boat on Victoria’s sewage problem

Media Release: February 22, 2006

VICTORIA, BC The BC government’s budget is a major lost opportunity to stop the dumping of raw sewage by the Capital Regional District of Victoria (CRD), say local environmental groups. By not committing its 1/3 share for a new sewage plant, the government is allowing the CRD to continue flaunting the province’s environmental protection laws, and to remain the only major center in Canada that is not committed to treating its sewage.

“In the recent federal election, all four federal parties made a commitment to help fund the building of a sewage treatment plant for Victoria,” says Christianne Wilhelmson, Program Coordinator with the Georgia Strait Alliance. “This budget shows that the BC government continues to avoid its responsibilities when it comes to environmental protection in this province.”

“Premier Campbell says he wants to ‘Lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none‘. With this budget, he has clearly left this goal for some future year” says Jim McIsaac of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. “The province continues to talk the talk but not walk the walk when it comes to

environmental protection.” Under infrastructure agreements in other regions of the country, the cost of constructing a sewage treatment plant is normally shared between local, provincial and federal governments. Proposed capital costs for sewage treatment in Victoria, which have been widely discussed in the media, are significantly higher than other BC residents currently pay. New technologies would put the cost of a new plant around $200 million, with options to recover resources such as biodiesel which would significantly lower operational costs.

The CRD dumps 120 million litres of raw sewage a day into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the body of water separating British Columbia from Washington State. A sixty square kilometre area around the outfalls is closed to all shellfish harvest and to the swimming scallop fishery due to high fecal coliform counts.