“........ Sometimes costly decisions are made in response to populist public perception, even when thorough scientific analysis shows the expenditure wouldn’t benefit, or may even harm the environment. A textbook example is the proposed $782 million sewage treatment plan for Greater Victoria.

The sewage currently undergoes primary screening before being pumped offshore into Juan de Fuca Strait. Because of its unique oceanographic setting, huge tidal flows through the strait drive strong currents that break-up and oxidize the sewage quickly and thoroughly.

Measurements show that within just 100 metres of the outfall point, effluent quality is as good as that disposed by cities much larger than Victoria into rivers of comparatively tiny flow volumes.

An expert panel appointed by the Capital Regional District found no scientific evidence of significant contamination and more than 10 marine scientists and six current and former medical health officers have stated that deep ocean disposal presents minimal effect on the marine environment and no measurable public health risk. Yet both the federal and provincial government have insisted that a land-based system be built. Why? Prophetically, the expert panel report signalled that its conclusions may be ignored because of public sentiment based on “ethics, esthetics or other factors than cannot be resolved on purely scientific grounds.”

But the pending victory of public perception over scientific fact doesn’t end there. While ocean disposal was thoroughly assessed, the environmental impacts of land-based treatment were not.

These impacts include using good farm and/or recreational land for sewage treatment plants, odour emissions to adjacent residential areas , substantial energy consumption, atmospheric emissions and surface contamination from treating, transporting and disposing of thousands of tonnes of sewage sludge per year.........”

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Below is an excerpt from a “Comment” on the editorial page of the Times/Colonist, Oct. 27, 2011. In my view, the writer, Mr. Gwyn Morgan, is substantially correct