Island Health says it doesn’t currently have the resources available to help North Cowichan prepare a report on ways to deal with substandard septic systems. (File photo)

Island Health says it doesn’t currently have the resources available to help North Cowichan prepare a report on ways to deal with substandard septic systems. (File photo)

Island Health says it has no resources to help with septic issues

North Cowichan had asked health authority to help identify strategies

Island Health says it currently has no resources to help North Cowichan find the best ways to deal with old and decrepit septic systems in the municipality.

In a letter to council, Rory Beise, Island Health’s land use/drinking water consultant, said the health authority doesn’t have the capacity to fully engage in this discussion with North Cowichan as its resources are currently focused on responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once our capacity becomes available, we would like to meet and discuss strategies to address these matters,” Biese said.

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The letter was a response to a request by council to partner with Island Health, which has jurisdiction over septic systems, in preparing a report on the subject or to provide some other input.

The request to Island Health came after Coun. Christopher Justice pointed out at a meeting in August that there are a number of areas in North Cowichan where septic systems are not working properly and they can introduce excessive nutrients and bacteria into the environment, contributing to the nutrient pollution of local water bodies and making them at times unsafe for recreational activities.

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He said at the time that sewer is not even an option in some areas of the municipality, like Maple Bay, where business opportunities have been limited and environmental impacts exacerbated by substandard septic systems and/or site conditions that preclude upgrades to meet current standards.

At the council meeting on Oct. 20, Justice asked staff what their next steps would be now that the municipality has received a response from Island Health.

CAO Ted Swabey said North Cowichan is in a similar situation as Island Health in terms of lack of resources and staff workloads.

“It’s not something I see on the radar for this year so it would have to be next year,” he said.

“Island Health did say in the letter that they do want to work with us to look at some options and that’s probably a good first step. We could contact Island Health and have discussion about options that they think are viable and would help inform [staff] for a report we’ll bring forward [at a later date].”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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North Cowichan Coun. Christopher Justice. (File photo)

North Cowichan Coun. Christopher Justice. (File photo)