Monday, July 24, 2006

Victoria Must Tackle Sewage Treatment

A quick update on my post from Friday announcing that Victoria has been ordered to stop dumping raw sewage into the ocean.

The link to the original press release has now been fixed, and in addition, here are two articles covering the story from the weekend.

"Under the Environmental Management Act, I have the authority to require them to bring a plan for me that will become legally binding and that's what I indicated today," Mr. Penner said in an interview.
"It's now time to stop talking about whether they need to treat sewage they are going to do it and I look forward to receiving their plan."
- Barry Penner, BC Environment Minister.

The announcement is a huge victory for the marine environment of the Georgia Strait, and for residents on both sides of the Canada-US border. It can also be seen as a pivotal environmental move from the BC Liberals who re-established the Ministry of Environment in their second term of office after scrapping it in their first.


Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

I just spoke with my dad who actually is in this business, and asked him about this. And he is not optomistic. He said in Halifax (I think it was) after such demand had been made by the province they then wasted 15 years wrangling over who was going to pay for the sewage treatment facility. Still -- good news I'd say. A step in the right direction

EX-NDIP said...

20 years ago when I sailed off the West Coast Victoria was dumping anything smaller than a grocery cart in the straight. Also pleasure craft had no holding tanks and did likewise. But if you went to Puget Sound in the US you had to have proper holding tanks for sewage . . . so unneighbourly of the US. They also complained for decades that Victoria was causing them problems.
Now the Federal Govt is finally changing the rules, requiring Victoria to process sewage and boaters, including commercial vessels, to contain their sewage and bilge contents.
Thank you Mr. Harper . . . took him a little over 6 months to do what his predecessors totally ignored!!!

Odiyya said...

I'm more than happy to give credit where credit is due, but I'm not seeing anything to thank Stephen Harper for in this one ex-n.

In mid to late 2005 the Senate Committee on Endergy, Env, and Resources passed into law Bill C-15, an amendment to the migratory Birds Convention Act adn the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to address bilge water pollution. Clearly this is before Harpers attempted regime took office.

More recently amendments to the Shipping Act were announced to address the discharge of ballast water and its affects on invasive species. However, though it was passed into effect in June of 2006, it had been developed by the previous gov beginning in 2000. Not only that, but it is aimed at curbing invasive species, not sewage issues.

As for the case in Victoria, the order for change came from the Provincial government, not the feds. The Feds have had money available for Victoria sewage treatment since the liberals.

Most importantly the real champions of this cause have been the activists working on both sides of the border, and the Victoria residents who stood up for change through the past decade and a half. Without that work, the political will for BC's Environment Minister (not Harper) to order treatment would never have been generated.

Anonymous said...

Here is a big picture view on sewage spills:

Each year, an estimated several billion gallons of untreated sewage spills into the environment. The primary culprits of sewage spills (aka. sanitary sewer overflows) are antiquated sewage collection systems, excessive rainfall, and human error. From the coast of Maine to San Diego Bay, untreated sewage overflows cause beach closures and endanger human health and the environment.

Cities struggle to meet the costs of preventing sewer overflows, which can reach up to tens of millions of dollars. Yet, large overflows, greater than 500,000 gallons, are not uncommon. This is why advocates for human health and the environmental have filed suit against cities and sewer districts in an attempt to hold them responsible for large overflows. As another winter season approaches, sewage collection system will be inundated with heavy rainfall and snow runoff, causing another round of large sewage overflows and beach closures. The question remains: have cities learned from past spills and are they better equipped to prevent them?

Sewer Overflow Map: overflow map.jpg