Frequently Asked Questions
About the Project
What are the goals of the wastewater treatment strategy?
The CRD is committed to protecting public health and the environment by providing for sustainable, cost effective, innovative wastewater treatment to residents. Over the next 60 years, the population of the Core Area of the CRD is anticipated to nearly double to 600,000 residents. We are working together to ensure that wastewater treatment facilities are built to meet our immediate needs and expandable to meet the long-term needs of the region.
What is the current level of treatment in the CRD's Core Area?
Wastewater within the Core Area of the CRD currently undergoes preliminary treatment at Clover and Macaulay Points. Preliminary treatment consists of screening the effluent with 6mm screens, which removes debris and solids.
Are fish and whales being harmed by the CRD’s sewage outfalls?
No. Because fish and marine mammals move extensively through the ocean, seafloor animals are used to monitor any effects to animals up the food chain. Extensive testing of seafloor animals shows no indication of movement of chemical contaminants up the food chain. Levels found are acceptable for human consumption.
What is the CRD’s SETAC report?
In 2005, the CRD Board commissioned an independent study by the Society of Environmental Toxicology Chemistry (SETAC) to review our liquid waste practices. The report found that although there is no evidence of harm to the marine environment, our increasing population may soon require increased treatment.
What is the triple bottom line?
The triple bottom line (TBL) is a decision-making methodology for evaluating project options. The TBL is designed to provide decision makers with a framework to understand the cost and benefits of alternatives across a spectrum of social, economic and environmental goals and objectives. In this way, a more balanced view of alternatives is created, and one which can be weighted in a variety of ways to achieve the best possible solution.
Siting, Approvals & Timing
Have there been any decisions regarding potential sites? †
A final decision regarding sites has been made. McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt has been identified as the centralized wastewater treatment facility sit. Clover Point, Macaulay Point and Craigflower will all see their existing pump stations upgraded. Clover and Macaulay will also be upgraded to include grit screening facilities. The Finnerty-Arbutus site is being retained for attenuation tanks; other locations for the tanks will be investigated. An energy centre is planned for either the Hartland Landfill or another suitable location.
How many treatment facilities will be built? †
The chosen centralized wastewater management strategy will consist of one centralized plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. For details on the management strategies please see the siting page.
When was site selection finalized? †
Site selection was revisited and altered in Amendment 8 to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan, which was submitted to the province on June 23, 2010.
Site selection for the first amendment to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan was finalized and submitted to the Province on December 14, 2009. This plan includes:
- Proposed system configuration with related cost estimates
- Plans for resource recovery and use
What criteria was used to determine the wastewater treatment strategy?
Final decisions were based on a thorough analysis of economic, environmental and social factors, using a triple bottom line methodology.
Read more about Site Selection
What is the role of the provincial government? †
The province made the original decision requiring the CRD to move towards wastewater treatment for the core area municipalities. We are abiding by that decision and are working to meet that requirement in the timelines established by the province. The province has also committed to one third of the cost of funding the wastewater treatment project. The provincial government is responsible for the consultation process with First Nations.
Who made the final decision regarding the location of sewage treatment facilities? †
The Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee selected the preferred sites at each location. Locations must, however, receive final approval from the Provincial Minister of Environment. Public consultation also formed an integral part of this process. Consultation will continue in 2010.
When will construction start?
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010-2011, and be completed by the end of 2016.
Environmental Impact & Innovations
What environmental impact will the wastewater treatment facilities have?
Environmental impact can only be determined when the final sites are selected, but it is expected that all impacts will be mitigated to less than significant levels.
Read more about our Environmental Strategy
Will the wastewater treatment facilities be carbon neutral? †
The chosen wastewater treatment system will allow wastewater facilities to operate carbon positive in large part due to the integration of resource recovery technologies. Plants will be designed so as to minimize energy consumption during construction and subsequent operation. As well, when cost effective, energy will be recovered from the sludge and effluent.
Read more about Environmental Protection
Does the selected wastewater treatment option incorporate resource recovery?
Yes. The chosen wastewater management option has the potential to:
- Fully utilize the available heat energy
- Utilize the energy from organic solids
Is water reuse under consideration?
Based on the CRD's successes with water conservation programs and the recent acquisition of the Leech Watershed lands, the Province removed the requirement that water reuse be included in a wastewater treatment system for the Core Area. Water reuse is no longer being considered for the centralized facility, however, it is still a possibility with the construction of future facilities.
What could reclaimed water be used for?
Reclaimed water is a water supply produced from wastewater to replace or replenish non-potable water uses in communities. Reclaimed wastewater goes through a number of processes to ensure that it is free of pathogens, micro-organisms and contaminants. Recovered water could be used for a variety of purposes, including landscape irrigation, non-potable (non-drinkable) uses such as toilet flushing in redeveloped or newly developed areas. When the reuse water was not required, it could be discharged either to the marine environment via an outfall or augment flow in local streams and rivers.
How much is the project going to cost? †
The cost of the system is estimated $782 million and includes the potential for more than 18,500 tonnes of carbon offsets per year. Annual resource recovery revenues are estimated at $3.1 million by 2030. Annual operating costs for the system are estimated at $14.5 million per year, with a per household cost of $210-$500 per year, depending on the municipality and structure of cost sharing agreements.
Why are the cost estimates so high?
The cost of implementing wastewater treatment is significant for our community. The cost is based on a capital cost to build the necessary facilities and make changes to the infrastructure. The CRD planning has been based on existing infrastructure in order to minimize the changes and costs. It’s important to note that generally, 60-80% of the capital cost for wastewater management is associated with the collection system.
Since the new treatment plants will produce renewable energy and recover resources why doesn’t the project pay for itself?
Our research has found that the potential revenues from resource recovery are not as significant as the operating and maintenance costs and therefore will offset some of the operating and maintenance costs of wastewater treatment, but will not be revenue neutral. In addition, capital costs are not offset by resource recovery.
How much will treatment cost the average taxpayer? †
Costs will vary from community to community depending on wastewater flows. Updated cost estimates will be available as they are determined by the CRDís consultants.
Read more about Costs to Residents
Will there be additional costs to the taxpayer for capital costs?
At some sites, the CRD may wish to integrate learning facilities or other neighbourhood activities
such as recreational fields into a treatment plant site. These types of additional uses have not been included in the cost estimates. Similarly, some plants have the opportunity for off-site water reuse or heat recovery. Allowances for off-site reuse or recovery works have not been included in current cost estimates, as these opportunities cannot be defined at this time.
Is wastewater treatment going to be a public/private partnership? †
The provincial government requires the CRD to look at whether the project or part of the project can proceed as public private partnership (P3). At this point, no final decisions have been made. For more information .
How is the CRD involving First Nations in public input? †
In partnership with the Provincial Government, First Nations engagement is one of our key priorities when planning for wastewater treatment in the Core Area. We are eager to work with our First Nations neighbours in a meaningful way on the project to seek their input, to apply their input to avoid problems and to seek opportunities to work together. Given the complexities of the wastewater treatment project, the legal requirement and genuine desire to engage and consult with First Nations, and the number of other important endeavours taxing these First Nationsí capacity, this pursuit can be expected to be an important element of the wastewater treatment project.
How can I provide my input?
Watch for more information on the next stages of the wastewater project. This will include continued public engagement in the coming months of 2010 that will help in guiding the decision making process. We will be initiating interactive and intensive engagement with neighbourhoods where treatment plants are located, highlighting community enhancement and seeking input on how best to integrate these future facilities.
How do I find out more about wastewater treatment? †
Additional information is available by visiting www.wastewatermadeclear.ca or by calling the Wastewater Project Team: 250.360.3001
© Images courtesy of Cheyenne Glasgow, Minette Layne & Evan Leeson