Re: "Sewage treatment foes out in force," Nov. 15.
Dr. Shaun Peck states there is "no measurable public health risk" to discharging raw sewage into the marine environment. This seems rather unremarkable since the public does not typically inhabit sewer-discharge zones. But ill effects on human health are only one consideration among many. What about effects on marine species or on the marine ecosystem as a whole?
Dr. Peter Chapman has posited that "discharges are not having major environmental impacts." This blanket statement is based on narrow-scope observations and measurements of limited parameters within limited areas near the present outfalls, in spite of the fact that studies have documented deleterious impacts on marine life and the presence of contaminated sediments in the discharge zones.
No controlled study has addressed the long-term impacts of raw sewage discharge on the whole Salish Sea ecosystem. The effects of raw sewage discharge should be viewed in conjunction with other environmental stresses such as ocean acidification, global warming, oxygen depletion and fisheries collapse.
In the absence of succinct, conclusive answers we should err on the side of prudence. Dumping 129 million litres of raw sewage per day into Juan de Fuca Strait is probably a bad thing. The local marine ecosystem did not evolve with this additional input of nutrients, pathogens, metals and biotropic chemicals. Yes, the tidal current carries it away, except during the four slack tides each day and the extended slack periods each lunar cycle when it inconveniently boils to the surface.
It is time to take responsibility for our impact on the marine environment.
Timothy B. Johnson
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