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Sustainable Sanitary Sewer for Victoria
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Worldchanging Vancouver Local, Mike Thomas

Victoria, the Capital of British Columbia, has a problem.

For decades the city has been dumping raw sewerage into the ocean, with little regard to marine health or the sustainability of the practice. It seems that public opinion is divided on the issue, with some even questioning why treatment is needed at all.

 For a nation as proud as Canada about it's natural tourist resources, this seems to be a short sighted outlook.  Thankfully the provincial and federal governments are working towards an innovative solution. (Now that sounds like the Canada we all love and enjoy, doesn't it!)

While the majority of questions centered around what opportunities exist here for resource recovery from sewage treatment, some questioned the need for treatment at all.

"There certainly was the odd question of 'why do we still need to do treatment?' I think we all focused on that we're past that decision and we're trying to move forward," said Dwayne Kalynchuk, general manager for the CRD's Environmental Services department.

In July, the province ordered the CRD to start treating sewage, calling the current practice of dumping raw sewage directly into the ocean an environmental hazard. The federal and provincial government have each pledged to pay one-third of the cost of a new facility.

One of the innovative methods being investigated is in use and saving money in Sweden.

The plant in Kristianstad converts both sewage and compost waste into biogas that is used to fuel transit buses and cars, and runs treated effluent through heat pumps to provide heat and hot water to 80,000 apartments.

"The beauty is it costs consumers less," Salter said, adding that the money generated from selling green energy offsets the cost of the treatment facility.

Salter notes the average cost of secondary treatment in Canada is $120 per household per year, versus Sweden which is between $70-80 (Cdn) per household per year...

The two biogas plants in Kristianstad, Sweden produce enough gas to run 22 city buses, several school buses, several heavy municipal trucks, most taxis and about 200 cars.

Source: Groups look to 'green' sewage - Victoria News 

Thankfully the Capital Region District is making progress on the path to a more sustainable solution for the sewer of Victoria.

The Capital Regional District has begun the process to provide cost effective, innovative and environmentally responsible sewage treatment to its residents. This project will see the upgrading of wastewater treatment practices in the Core Area to account for the demands of our increasing population.

Source: Planning for Sewage Treatment

An engineering consortium of Associated Engineering and CH2MHill has recently been appointed to assist with the development of the wastewater management strategy. These world leading wastewater consultancy firms should bring innovative solutions to the capital of British Columbia.

If you are involved in the industry and have ideas on how to implement sustainable solutions on a city wide scale, (approximately 300,000 to 400,000 residents) the CRD is seeking expressions of interest regarding innovative sewage treatment and resource recovery technologies and strategies. Submissions will be accepted until January 31, 2007, you can find out more here.

With funding and publicity this project has every reason to succeed and transform an outdated sewer network into a state of art resource recovery program.  We'll be keeping a close eye on the project as it develops.

About the author: Mike Thomas is a Civil Engineer in the process of moving to BC, Canada. Mike loves sustainability and innovative solutions, and currently blogs at

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