As some Greater Victoria cities inch closer to a solution to the regional sewage treatment question, Sooke, with tertiary treatment already in place, watches carefully.
The reason? Sooke produces about 170 tonnes of sewage sludge every year, with all of it transported to the Hartland landfill in Saanich. The cost to the municipality is about $20,000 annually.
After years of studies, public consultation and debate, CRD directors decided to build two tertiary-treatment plants present the best option for moving forward with the troubled mega project. (Tertiary treatment refers to cleaning sewage to a point that becomes usable water.)
That move could open the door to a better way to dispose of sewage sludge then having it trucked to a landfill, if the CRD directors approve a plan for resource recovery.
“The sludge is sent to Hartland as a special waste, but it’s only happening because there is no other method of disposing of it. It’s almost been done on an emergency-type basis,” said acting mayor Rick Kasper, who represents Sooke on the CRD board.
Recently, the CRD board struck a subcommittee to look at options of dealing with the sludge and how it can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way.
Treated sewage sludge is used in forestry, agriculture, land reclamation, composting and as an energy source.
Sooke is not the only community looking at source recovery for sludge. North Saanich shares a sewage treatment facility with Central Saanich, Sidney and the Psatsartilt First Nation, while Port Renfrew operates a system for 80 people.
“The sludge issue must be straightened out eventually. It’s the other part of the puzzle,” said Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks.
“When they [the CRD] talk about treating biosolids they’re not just talking about their own, they’re talking about Sooke’s too. We’re not totally out of this. It does affect us.”
The CRD board referred the disposal of sewage sludge back to staff to look at cost implications. A March 31 deadline looms for federal funding on regional sewage treatment.