EDITORIAL: Where has the money gone?

Still a long way to go on the road to sewage treatment

Beginning in today’s edition, Black Press and the Goldstream News Gazette will take an in-depth look at the sewage issue which has plagued and puzzled residents throughout the Capital Region for decades.

The Capital Regional District’s core area liquid waste management committee has recommended moving ahead with a wastewater treatment program that will feature treatment plants at Victoria’s Clover Point and either McLoughlin or Macaulay points in Esquimalt.

There’s reason for optimism that Greater Victoria will finally find an alternative to pumping untreated sewage a kilometre out from shore into Juan de Fuca Strait.

However, we’ve been here before, only to see the plan unravel amid political infighting.

The CRD identified McLoughlin Point as the preferred site for a single treatment plant back in 2014.

That plan never made it past the initial designs as Esquimalt council rejected the CRD’s rezoning application, following a series of raucous public hearings.

There’s reason to believe Esquimalt may be more receptive in this go-round, as a Victoria plant serves to share the load on sewage flows.

The issue has taken some dramatic turns in recent weeks.

The initial seven options, each of which included a main plant at Rock Bay, fell by the wayside as the committee focused on sites near existing outfalls at Clover and Macaulay points, saving the $250-million cost of piping the effluent there.

But the project still carries an estimated cost of more than $1 billion, which would translate to estimated household costs ranging from a low of $352 a year in Saanich to a high of $741 in Colwood.

To address those costs, along with the technical advances in sewage treatment and the region’s history with the issue, Black Press assembled a team of reporters, photographers and graphic designers, who devoted hundreds of hours researching the subject and putting together a five-part series that runs Wednesdays and Fridays through April 1.

We can only hope that this time we are finally on the road to a solution and won’t be sitting in the same place two years down the road, wondering how we got here.

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