Archive for February, 2011

Doing due diligence versus just going with cotreatment

“So my question to the advisory committee this evening is this: Do we follow due diligence that has been put before us in our past workings on this committee on the matrix?  Do we keep that alive and follow that?  Or are we just beating our head against a wall when we should be focussing on the option before us which is cotreatment and making that work for the best of this community’s advantage at this particular time?”

City Councillor Jim Palm, Chair of the Liquid Waste Management Joint Advisory Committee, Nov. 8, 2010

Committing to cotreatment in the Agreement in Principle

The Agreement in Principle [agreement signed with Catalyst in April 2010] is very specific in its language. There was never an intention to lock and load the gun and give Catalyst a service agreement for cotreatment.  However the intention was there.  The public has been aware of that for a year and a half.”

Councillor Chris McNaughton, Oct. 21, 2010.

Considering sewage options other than cotreatment

At the July 13, 2010 Council Liquid Waste Management Steering Committee meeting,

– Councillor Chris McNaughton said only co-treatment should be considered,

– Councillor Dave Formosa said only co-treatment and a Townsite city-owned plant should be considered, and

– Councillor Debbie Dee said that the Waste Transfer site should be eliminated as a possibility.

Councillor Dee said at a November 2, 2010 Steering Committee meeting that moving the sewage treatment plant from Westview to the Waste Transfer site is “like taking the toilet from the front door and putting it in the living room.”

Public attendance at Council meetings does not equal public consultation

“First off, I want to make it clear that this [Council meeting on tax bylaw] is not a public hearing or public meeting. It’s due to the wonderful grapevine that is out there.  Council did not invite them.  I think that’s a flaw on our part.”

Councillor Maggie Hathaway, Oct. 21, 2010.

Need for a referendum

“A Liquid Waste Management Plan has to go through a referendum process unless the Minister decides that it doesn’t need to go through one and the cotreatment plan would have to be consistent with that LWMP.”

Donald Lidstone, City legal counsel, October 21, 2010.

Use of the clarifier

“What’s the point in spending millions of dollars to eliminate the clarifier just to have us build something there and have it stink all over again?  That area is so close to residents.  That’s the closest place to residents in all of Powell River where you want to put the sewage treatment plant.”

Ted Wrubleski, Liquid Waste Management Joint Advisory Committee member, Nov. 8, 2010

Odour impacts of existing Westview plant versus using the clarifier

“Well, the Westview treatment plant is enclosed. A treatment plant that is not enclosed in general terms would be more problematic in terms of odour.  So if you enclose it, it’s going to cost extra money, but then you cut down on your odours… We haven’t been asked about covering the clarifier.”

Al Gibb, Dayton & Knight consulting engineer, Nov. 8, 2010

In addition, at a Feb. 9, 2011  meeting Townsite Ratepayers had with City Manager of Engineering Services Richard Stogre, Mr. Stogre said that City Council would be “comfortable” with the storage of raw sewage in the mill’s abandoned clarifier.

Odour concern considered for Waste Transfer site but not Townsite

“The concern we have is that as the town grows, the two communities Westview and Townsite are going to grow together and the treatment plant is someday going to end up in the middle of town.  And it’s also up from your campground.”

Al Gibb, Dayton & Knight, City’s consulting engineer, Nov. 8, 2010

“Why can you say we can put it in the Townsite, but we can’t put it in the waste transfer site because someday the town might grow around it?  The Townsite is already there.”

Ted Wrubleski, Liquid Waste Management Joint Advisory Committee member, Nov. 8, 2010

Dumping sewage into the Strait during full mill shutdowns

“In terms of bypass [releasing  sewage without any  treatment], there would have to be an Environmental Impact Statement on its impacts on the marine environment. But it’s been done for years in Victoria and it would just be a brief window when this happened. I’d be surprised if the Ministry of Environment had concerns. I know it’s not viewed favourably by the public.”

Al Gibb, Dayton & Knight, City’s consulting engineer, June 28, 2010.


Read Full Post »

Here are some frequently asked questions about the City’s plan to pay Catalyst to treat Powell River’s sewage…..

FAQs on Cotreatment in Powell River

Read Full Post »


Please RSVP on our FB event page

Read Full Post »

Patricia Cocksedge of the Powell River Water Watch Coalition gave the following presentation to the Liquid Waste Management Joint Advisory Committee on December 14, 2010:


I am speaking on behalf of the Water Watch Coalition and would like to address the innovation component of the Waste Water Management Plan.

The province is encouraging municipalities to develop innovative wastewater treatment alternatives.  A review of the Innovation Fund application shows that to qualify, municipalities are required to demonstrate measurable outcomes that the project will reduce greenhouse gases, provide cleaner water or cleaner air, and that it will improve public or environmental health protection standards.

From the Innovation Fund application document, questions 4, 5, and 6 reflect this.

4.  Required Outcomes. How does this project contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner air or cleaner water?

5. Measuring Outcomes. Please provide an estimate of the greenhouse gas , cleaner air or cleaner water outcome and the methodology (including calculations) used for determining the outcome.  (For example, was the BC greenhouse gas emission guide used for calculating the lower GHG outcome?)

6.  Public and Environmental Health.  How does this project improve public or environmental health protection standards?

How has the city answered these questions in the application form?

The co-treatment option that the City has been trying to push through with little or no real discussion does nothing to reduce greenhouse gases, but it does do a lot to produce dirtier water by substituting a lower, industrial discharge standard for the municipal liquid waste water standard.  The water at the end of the co-treatment process could be more polluted and therefore worse for the environment and public health.  There are also significant problems with odour control.

There are newer, innovative technologies being explored and introduced worldwide that have not been examined in this process because of the unnecessary rush to promote co-treatment.  One example of new technology is the new wastewater and sewage treatment facility in Christina Lake.  The ecological wastewater treatment facility, which uses the power of the sun, will mimic a wetland system.  It will use fish, snails, microbes and plants to treat sewage and wastewater without the use of chemicals.  Another example is from California where Environmental Developers Inc. has patented a municipal wastewater treatment process which eliminates ponds, landfills and greenhouse gas emissions.  The operation has a very small footprint, and treats both solid waste and wastewater in a totally enclosed plant that is environmentally pure, emitting nothing to land, sea or air.  In Italy, there is an innovative technology called SBBGR – Sequencing Batch Biofilter Granular Reactor – for the treatment of both municipal and industrial wastewater.  And the list goes on all over the world.

In a report entitled ‘Review of the State of Knowledge of Municipal Effluent Science and Research’ prepared for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in 2006, it is stated that there are many gaps in our knowledge of treatment removal efficiency for toxicity, metals, pesticides, and hydrocarbons as certain metal and organic substances in wastewater can interfere with the microorganisms involved in aeorobic and anaerobic treatment.  In addition, a variety of emerging contaminants such as different PPCPs (Pharmaceutical and Personal Care products), fragrances, flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds and other contaminants of emerging environmental concerns need to be characterized for removal.  It is clear from research that many jurisdictions world wide are now working on these concerns.  Is this critical research into new technology part of the innovation being considered here?

We are not going to suggest which technologies might be best for Powell River, because that is what the consultants should have been doing with our research and investigation dollars.  They have the expertise to put together a proper report on real innovation for Powell River.

There has been a lot of confusion created about the total or lifecycle costs of the proposals.  Many of the new technologies have cost recovery options that include the use and sale of waste byproducts, such as heat and biofuel recovery and compost.

There are also the future costs for Powell River. People are looking for clean air, clean water and a decent place to live.  Are dirtier water and unpleasant odours going to help attract residents and businesses?  No.  Are dirtier water and unpleasant odours going to increase real estate values?  No.

Perhaps our take on real innovation lies in the definition.   Business Dictionary.com defines innovation as “the process by which an idea or invention is translated into a good or service for which people will pay”.  In economics, it is given that the change must increase value:   customer value or producer value.  We have another value to consider – the environmental one.  The word innovation comes from a Latin word meaning to renew or change.  Innovation can and should be seen as a change in the thought process for doing something.  The questions on the Innovation Fund application form, to which I referred earlier, speak to the need to start seriously protecting our shaky environment, clearly a change in the thinking process, and not just in the economic process .

You, as members of the liquid waste advisory committee, have been doing an excellent job of considering all of the options for liquid waste management that have been presented.  Given increasing environmental concerns (just lately, the whale habitat) and given rapidly developing technology, perhaps there are even more to consider since you first began deliberations.  This is a very important advisory decision that you are making.  We urge the advisory committee to think in terms of real innovation and the future of Powell River which we all care about a great deal.  Real innovation in our infrastructure, even if it costs slightly more, will benefit Powell River in both the short and long terms and will result in the recovery of more than we spend.    We urge you to insist the city provide you with more innovative options before asking you to make choices.

Our citizens and our environment are counting on you.

Thank you

Patricia Cocksedge

Powell River Water Watch

Read Full Post »