Sewage options brought forward for Colwood and Langford

Proponent says it’s a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone

A group of concerned citizens have banded together to find an alternative solution to the sewage dilemma facing the West Shore.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This big sewer issue for the core municipalities has been a huge thing, and it hasn’t been really divided up into nice bite-sized bits that can be handled,” said Bill Beadle, a prominent figure in Langford’s business community and a member of Langford’s sewage treatment committee. “If Langford and Colwood are able to get together and agree to build their own plant, (they’ll) release themselves from the burden of the other plants … I believe it’s a win-win.”

By diverting Langford and Colwood’s sewage to their own plant, this would reduce the flow requirements for the Capital Region’s core plant (or plants), reducing the required size of the treatment facility and thus reducing the costs, Beadle said. He added, “that lessens the burden for the other side.”

As for Colwood and Langford residents, Beadle said, “it gives us a plant where we can build to suit.”

Meaning, a plant built in a modular system that can be expanded as needed, based on population growth.

Beadle noted costs for this expansion could be recouped through development fees. “That makes sense to me. We can contain that cost in our area, which is the fastest growing.”

As for the numbers, Beadle said their research shows the cost per household for this type of option would be roughly $250 per year, or possibly less. He also noted that operating costs would be significantly less than proposals currently being reviewed by the CRD’s sewage project board.

But the West Shore group isn’t just asking councils and the CRD board to take their word for it. Beadle has put his own money down to hire a private, third-party company specializing in sewage systems, to conduct a peer review of their research.

“It’s being privately done because as much as this is a savings of millions and millions of dollars, it’s just hard for the political will to give more, because they’ve already felt they’ve given a lot and gotten nowhere … That’s fine, you have to take it in the shins and say ‘fine, we’ll fund it, we believe in it so much,’” Beadle said.

“I am saying the sooner that we can move ourselves away from the core and do our own, the less money we have to contribute as our share to the mismanagement, the huge mismanagement, of the money that’s (already) gone … It puts a stop to the wasteful spending,” he continued.

“(It’s) just to say at this point in the game there’s a line in the sand and we are no longer participating in that kind of dithering that is so expensive.”

Patrick Lucey, an aquatic ecologist at Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting Ltd., said “it’s the peer review that’s crucial … We believe that we’ve done the work necessary to demonstrate that these ideas are viable, that this planning process and the financing costs we have put forward are viable. But it is always subject to the peer review.”

That peer review could also confirm the group’s belief that an outfall would not be required for a Langford/Colwood treatment facility, saving millions.

“It’s really not a question of going it alone. It’s Colwood and Langford putting forward a proposal that almost certainly would be done in the future, but let’s do it now and it becomes part of the overall CRD planning process,” Lucey added.

As Langford taxpayers and concerned private citizens, Beadle said, “we’re trying to keep this thing in order and keep it focused.”

Lucey was scheduled to lead a presentation on the proposal to Colwood council members at a special meeting Tuesday night after the Gazette’s press deadline.

The group plans to present this option to Langford council, or, if Colwood doesn’t support the proposal as is, an option that explores Langford connecting to Sooke’s infrastructure. A date for that meeting has not been determined.

If all goes as hoped, Beadle said, they will take the support of the two municipalities with their proposal to the CRD’s project board for consideration. Along with their proposal, they will also include a peer review that is in draft form but will be completed by the time the board has to make their decision.

“I believe the board will have a hard time facing this and not allowing the win-win of this to proceed,” he said.

“I personally, and others, will come unglued if there isn’t acceptance.”