Time to ban boats from dumping sewage

We have to stop the antiquated practice of boats just dumping sewage into the water wherever they happen to be when the mood strikes, or the tanks are full.

This has been standard practice for many boat owners for a long time, and it may take some time to change people’s attitudes.

After all, those in boats can just dump and run, so to speak.

It’s a bit like the folks who sully our roadsides and woods with their trash and then drive away.

Out of sight, out of mind.

But it’s not gone.

This is the lesson we should

be learning from the closure of Maple Bay beach earlier this spring due to bacterial contamination.

It’s the lesson that’s been staring us in the face for the past 30 years that the Mill Bay coastline has been closed for shellfish harvest.

There are alternatives. They take a bit more effort on the part of boaters. Going to a pump out station to unload your sewage takes more thought and planning than just being able to release whenever and wherever you like.

But doing so is turning our

beautiful Vancouver Island and Cowichan coastline into a toilet.

We hope that description brought a grimace to your face.

It should.

Not everywhere collects the sewage quite as badly as Saanich Inlet, which only flushes (no pun intended) once a year during the highest tides in autumn.

But the current disposal practices are beginning to be felt.

As the number of people and boats increases, look for the number of beach swimming closures to increase along with them. South of the border in the San Juan Islands they have a much

more progressive policy, and by all accounts, boaters have adapted.

Boaters here can too. We look askance at the Canadian federal government, who, when they created a no-dumping zone along the B.C. coast some four years ago created an exemption for our Island coastline. Not enough pump-out stations was the stated reason.

If that was the case, then the obvious solution was not the exemption, but making sure that the requisite pump-outs became reality.

The feds own wharves up and

down the coast after all, and pump-outs are available at various marinas.

Even if new pump-outs had to be installed, it would have been a small investment for the longterm good.

It still can be. The Saanich Inlet is leading the charge, and we hope that our local jurisdictions begin the process as quickly as they can to be taken out of the exemption zone as well.

We want a clean coastline to live, work and play along, not a place where people have flushed their sewage.