Notice of Motion – Core Area Liquid Waste Committee

Director Vic Derman – August 13, 2014 (Updated October, 2014)


It appears that one or more municipalities or groups of municipalities are moving to investigate “individualized” solutions to sewage treatment. Within this changing environment, likely involving a number of solutions, the CRD could play a positive role by undertaking a “Best Practices Sounding”.

Such a sounding would involve a broad scan of the best technologies currently available as well as the best system designs applying those technologies. In addition, a sounding should actively seek submissions from organizations, companies and individuals, large and small, who have shown particular knowledge, expertise and leadership in leading edge designs including distributed systems. A final report should be accompanied by an appendix containing unedited versions of all submissions received.

This process need not incur the time and expense involved in a full scale Request for Proposals (RFP). A much swifter and less expensive process should be able to give a credible evaluation of “what is out there”.  If carried out appropriately, this could result in a “toolkit for sewage treatment options”, something that could only serve to inform individual municipalities or groups of municipalities embarking on sub-regional projects. To insure such a “sounding” is seen as credible and above reproach, terms of reference should insure that it is:

1. open to all ideas, technologies and designs

2. active in reviewing the literature and seeking to encourage submissions,

3.  comprehensive in presenting all technologies, approaches and opportunities,

4. leading edge without being “bleeding edge”

5. independent and objective with no connections to special interests or “traditional” interests in the sewage industry

Furthermore, the terms of reference should go beyond secondary treatment required by federal regulations and look at solutions that:

1. MAXIMIZE response to climate change. Given the unfolding crisis that climate change presents, it is absolutely unacceptable to plan and build any major project without insuring that our response to climate change, especially greenhouse gas reduction, is optimized.  

2. MAXIMIZE opportunities for resource recovery. This is critical for an appropriate climate change response. Also, life cycle costs and can be reduced and scarce resources recovered.

3. Accomplish a high standard of treatment.  Tertiary disinfected treatment providing high quality effluent and substantially deals with emerging chemicals should be seen as essential.

4. Provide best value for money to taxpayers. Value for money is accomplished by achieving benefit substantial enough to justify money spent. It is possible a different approach could have higher initial capital costs. However, accomplishing much higher environmental benefit, including very substantial climate change mitigation and potential lower life cycle costs, could still provide superior value for money to taxpayers.

5. Look for opportunities to integrate other parts of the waste stream. Existing gasifier technology might, for example, be able to handle biosolids on a relatively small site for a cost in the order of $50 million. This contrasts with nearly $300 million projected for the biosolids solution in the Seaterra project. In addition, gasifiers are relatively compact and could be located to maximize opportunities for resource recovery. Finally, in addition to biosolids, gasifiers could likely use kitchen scraps as a feedstock. This would deal with two CRD “waste” problems in an environmentally appropriate and fiscally prudent manner.


6. Restore public trust in regional government. There is little doubt that the sewage issue has caused much of the general public to question the effectiveness of the CRD.  A new, clearly objective, and efficient process of investigation resulting in a comprehensive best practices sounding could do much to restore public confidence in the value of regional government.

Finally, the sounding should insure that all advantages of a given design are considered in decisions made. A distributed system might, for example, present the ability to:

1. Phase in capacity on a “just in time” basis. Thereby making expenditures as needed.

2. Provide greater flexibility to incorporate future innovation by equipping plants designed for new capacity with “the latest and greatest”.

3. Provide greater resiliency through redundancy. A major catastrophe such as an earthquake could render virtually an entire centralized system inoperable. There is a much greater chance that a distributed system would be able to maintain at least some level of operability.

4. Provide better opportunities for resource recovery and lower life cycle costs. Distributed plants can be located close to where resources are actually used. This advantage makes substantial resource recovery much more likely.

It is important to note that the Best Practices Sounding would not be intended as prescriptive for municipalities or groups of municipalities. Instead, it would provide them with valuable due diligence and research that would remove the need for each group and municipality to carry out such a process themselves.

Moved – That staff be directed to report back, at the next meeting of the Core Area Liquid Waste Committee, on how a process for investigating best practices, as described in the rationale above, might be implemented.

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