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CRD flexible on landfill location in Victoria-area sewage plan

Jul 10 2012

The Capital Regional District is open to suggestions for the perfect site for a biosolids digestion facility, even after federal funding for a secondary sewage treatment plant is announced.

CRD chairman Geoff Young said Monday he expects that within weeks, the federal government will deliver on its promised one-third funding for the $782-million capital cost of the project.

Vanessa Schneider, a spokesman for Transport Minister Denis Lebel, said: "Our government remains committed to this project, and we are working closely with our partners to reach an agreement."

The B.C. announcement of one-third funding is expected to follow.

Operating costs of $14.5 million and any land acquisition costs would be borne by the participating municipalities, with the estimated property tax burden for homeowners to range from $100 to $500 a year.

Meanwhile, although the business case for the project has been completed for years, discussions continue about the possibility of a better site for the biosolids facility, currently proposed for Hartland landfill.

"If there is a better one, certainly we will look at [it]," Young said. "Right up until the time when we select a proponent or proponents and sign a contract, we will always be open to better options.

The approved treatment plan calls for a liquids-only treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. There, the liquid would be extracted and the sludge left over would be piped 18 kilometres to a biosolids digestion facility at the landfill. Underground storage tanks would be built at Cadboro Bay.

Currently, sewage is sieved through a six-millimetre metal screen before it is piped about a kilometre into the ocean.

The Hartland site has never been considered ideal, but it is owned by all municipalities within the CRD. Other properties the CRD has considered would cost in the range of $15 million to $20 million.

There has been ongoing discussion of other sites that may be suitable. But with little provincial or regional land available, the price tag could prove a deal breaker.

The location of the liquids-only treatment plant at McLoughlin Point, at the entrance to the Inner Harbour, has been less contentious except in Esquimalt.

The site is centrally located, for the most part away from neighbourhoods, and is in the vicinity of the new outfall proposed for the harbour. The former Esso site, which would have to be remediated, was also considered relatively inexpensive.

The site is too small to house both liquids-only treatment and a biosolidsdigestion facility. The CRD considered a site that would house both, but due to the cost is now considering separate locations.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is encouraging residents "to be speaking in a louder voice in public" about the inappropriateness of both the McLoughlin site for liquids-only treatment plant, and the considerable economic and environmental costs of piping biosolids to the Hartland landfill.

Desjardins supports secondary sewage treatment but said it needs to be integrated at a single site away from McLoughlin Point. ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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