Better wastewater treatment, not just sewage outfall move needed

Satellite Channel is already posted for shellfish contamination on the Cherry Point side and the lightly populated Saltspring Island side.

Dear Mr. Jon Lefebure

As a long-term resident of Cherry Point, and a taxpayer, I am disturbed by the announcement in the Cowichan Valley Citizen (July 8) of the plan to spend about $24.5 million, solely on a longer pipe and its ancillary equipment, to move the sewage pollution from the Cowichan River to Satellite Channel, with no additional treatment.

Satellite Channel is already posted for shellfish contamination on the Cherry Point side and the lightly populated Saltspring Island side. The Duncan sewage lagoons are the suspected source of much of the contamination.

The latest issue of the Canadian Consulting Engineer (June/July 2016, page 9-11) has an article “Plants to the Rescue” by Sophie Kneisel, describing the use of new technologies at the Sechelt Water Resources Centre, located in the Lower Sunshine Coast of B.C.

The District of Sechelt completed a sewage treatment plant replacement in 2015 costing $24.9 million, which is about the same cost as our longer pipe ($24.5) million, assuming there is no cost overrun.

The report states: “Rather than being discharged into the ocean, 100 per cent of the liquid effluent can now be reused…With biosolids being composted (to Class A compost at an off-site facility, for sale and re-use) waste solids discharged to the ocean have been reduced by 90 per cent.”

With the current water shortages in the Cowichan Valley and a growing population, I would strongly suggest that it would be prudent to examine systems such as the District of Sechelt has implemented and forget about the longer pipe solution. With a growing population, the need for treating sewage over the next 100 years and beyond will increase, perhaps dramatically.

It is now being treated simply as waste water by our officials, rather than becoming a resource, as at the Sechelt Water Resources Centre.

Also, I understand the current facility is on leased land with a relatively short-term lease. In your wildest dreams, can you ever envision when we won’t need a sewage treatment facility in the Cowichan Valley?

A public facility should not be subject to leases.

With the current flood risks during the winter months, additional risk is involved with the predicted sea level rising.

It is time to examine all of this and if found wanting, build the facility on a lower risk publicly owned location where we retain complete public ownership of the facility, the land it is build on, and land to expand in the future.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District can take advantage of the years of engineering study and work involved in establishing the Sechelt Water Resources Centre that is nearby and in a similar climate.

A start might be as simple as a telephone call between the two mayors, to ask the mayor of the District of Sechelt his opinion on the overall effectiveness of the system after about one year in operation, and go from there.


Wayland S. Read

Cherry Point