Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Victoria Sewage: Now Can We Flush?

Mr. Floatie
Twenty years ago, Puget Sound was finally flushed with pride as many of its municipalities were on their way to upgrading to secondary sewage treatment. Victoria, the capital of "Beautiful, British Columbia” (as the province once brand itself in its advertisements) was simply filtering its sewage through a metal screen then piping its raw sewage about half a mile offshore smack into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

They still do but earlier this week there finally appeared some light at the end of that discharge pipe when the federal, provincial and regional governments announced a deal to fund a proposed $782-million secondary sewage treatment plant in the capital region.  (“Three governments announce deal for Greater Victoria sewage plant”)  

Seattle PI.Com reporter Joel Connelly this week recalled the decades-long political refusal of British Columbia politicians to step up to the loo and remedy the festering issue in his column, “Victoria: A sewage treatment plant at last.

Joel takes us down memory lane by recounting how Puget Sound yachting groups protested and boycotted the annual Victoria Swiftsure Yacht Race in the mid-’90s and by resurrecting the six-foot tall “Mr. Floatie” who ran for mayor of Victoria. Connelly also reminds us how the then-B.C. Environment Minister David Anderson adamantly defended the use of the Strait as a fine dumping ground because of its tidal action.

Well, Mr. Anderson remains an outspoken critic of secondary treatment and defender of dumping raw sewage into the Strait, jumping again into the effluent this week with a guest editorial, “Sewage-treatment plan serves no one well.”

For my part, I’ve always believed that my Canadian friends and Victoria businesses have long wanted to treatment their sewage and be good neighbors. Boycotting Victoria because of poor political leadership unfortunately would hurt the wrong people so in the mid-’90s our protest took the form of the “When you go to Victoria, don’t flush” campaign.

And we’ve held fast to that all these years. Now can we flush?

--Mike Sato

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