Address to CRD Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee

By Stuart Hertzog
June 23, 2010

Good morning committee members, and thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

The amended plan before you today makes two essential changes. First, I applaud the recommendation not to build the Saanich East site, and I ask that you support this change and the continued preservation of Haro Woods as a vital and irreplaceable community resource.

This change only came about as the result of diligent work by two Cadboro Bay residents, and I commend these two and the entire Save haro Woods team for their dedication and persistence.

Their efforts stand as a positive and remarkable example of the benefits of public involvement in the decision-making processes of government, an involvement that is sadly being eroded in many levels of government in Canada today.

The second essential change is that the Pacific Steel site for the sludge processing plant in the Upper Harbour is no longer on the table, and that this plant has nominally been relocated to Hartland landfill, unless a closer site can be found.

This is good news for two reasons. First, it removes the shadow of uncertainty hanging over residents of Burnside Gorge and VicWest, causing fear and anxiety that a possibly noisy, smelly, and ugly sewage plant would be built in their neighbourhood.

I believe that you on this committee, while bound by secrecy concerning discussions around the acquisition of property, did not take sufficient steps to address residents concerns. You left these communities to twist in the wind while you fiddled around behind closed doors.

I hope such a flagrant disregard for legitimate community concerns and individual fears will not be repeated in the future, and that a more open, inclusive, and forthright attitude will be adopted by all CRD committees in the future.

One can always hope.

The second piece of good news it that moving the proposed sludge plant from sea level and elevating it to the heights of the Hartland landfill removes it from sea level, at a time when global warming is causing sea levels to rise, and the intensity of storm surges to increase.

The science behind this, perhaps even the majority on this committee would agree, is clear. However, that’s an assumption on my part. One can always hope.

However, this leaves the three other cornerstones of this amended plan — the McLoughlin, Macaulay, and Clover Points facilities — at sea level, at a time when global warming is causing sea levels to rise, and the intensity of storm surges to increase.

The wisdom of doing this at a time when global warming is causing sea levels to rise, and the intensity of storm surges to increase, is utterly beyond my understanding. Yet this primary fact of our collective existence receives only one brief mention in Part 2 of the Environmental Impact Study conducted for this project.

We do not know for sure where mean sea level will be in twenty years’ time — yet this amended plan makes no provision for rising sea levels.

On the contrary, it flies in the face of this impending disaster, and like King Canute, positions three key facilities exactly at the edge of the waves, and in some instances, already slightly beneath them.

Not only are these plants exposed to rising sea levels and increased storm surges caused by global warming, they also are directly exposed to potential inundation by tsunami waves caused by a major earthquake anywhere in the Pacific Ocean.

What provisions have been made for this? None, as far as I can see.

This amended plan — in fact, all of the plans to date — are fundamentally flawed in placing its cornerstone facilities of a major metropolitan area, on the edge of the ocean, at sea level.

This plan represents the height of foolishness and should be rejected.

Finally, I once again want to draw your attention to the claim that this plan will be “carbon-neutral” or even “carbon-negative.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even more than the previous plans, Amendment #8 increases the energy consumption, including the overall fossil fuel consumption, of your ill-advised sewage scheme.

Pumping sewage sludge 18 kilometres uphill, pus all the extra fossil fuels used in construction of this pipeline, can only increase the carbon footprint of this plan.

I have stated previously that the claims that burning human sewage wastes and claiming a greenhouse gas “credit” for doing so, is an entirely fabricated conclusion.

I won’t go into details right now, but only say that my previous estimate that the global warming impact of this plan will be at least 1.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent units, is now a low estimate.

This plan as it stands is deficient, and must be deferred.

I await a response on the issues I have raised.

Thank you.