Former minister Anderson clarifies position on sewage

Ex Victoria MP and environment minister takes a poke at former B.C. premier

In the Black Press special report on Sewage in the CRD, Mike Harcourt described my position on sewage treatment as “dilution is the solution.” This comment may be an April fool’s joke on the part of the former premier, but, for the record, it is inaccurate.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca the vast quantities of cold, heavily oxygenated seawater driven rapidly by tides results in nutrients from CRD wastewater becoming part of the food chain in the ocean in much the same manner as manure on a farmer’s field becoming part of the food chain on land.  Dilution occurs, but dilution is not a major factor in the process.  Simply put, we are facing a situation where nature can do a better job than can the engineers.

Mr. Harcourt describes the findings of the joint scientific panel of academic university experts in Washington and B.C. on marine pollution, set up by his own government and that of Washington state, as “bizarre.” Why?

Because these experts came to the scientific and facts-based conclusion that environmental and health problems related to Victoria’s wastewater are minimal or non-existent, and far below in importance to many other causes of degradation to the marine environment.

Unfortunately, this conclusion was contrary to the premier’s political position, and, experts though they were, the premier decided to ignore and denigrate the best bi-national advice available.

Mr. Harcourt ceased to be premier two decades ago.  Since then, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no review of the Joint B.C./Washington Academic Panel findings or of more recent academic analysis of the issues involved. There has been no cost/benefit analysis, despite tens of millions of dollars for consultancy fees.  Facts, and science, have been ignored by Mr. Harcourt and his successors for the past 20 years, and ignored also by the CRD.

For my part I find that to be, if I may quote Mr. Harcourt, “bizarre” indeed.

David Anderson

Oak Bay

(David Anderson is former federal minister of environment)

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