A West Shore sewage plant? Colwood says yes

The idea of a sewage-treatment plant for the West Shore is gaining fresh steam.

Colwood council voted unanimously Tuesday that the presentation of a proposed treatment plant to serve Colwood and Langford should be made to the Capital Regional District’s sewage-treatment project board.

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It also committed to select a site and host it.

“Colwood has always wanted a solution that was reasonable, cost-effective and doesn’t break the banks of taxpayers,” Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said.

Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting will present to the project board Aug. 25, if it also gets support from Langford council.

The presentation is based on a decentralized wastewater and water-reuse concept that would pump treated water into the ground. In the case of an emergency, it would use existing infrastructure to send treated wastewater to Macaulay Point.

The plan aims to avoid building an ocean outfall in Colwood.

The plant would cost West Shore residents $58 million, down from the $204 million that Urban Systems estimated for a westside plant for the CRD. Colwood would contribute $14.5 million and Langford would contribute $43.5 million. It would cost Colwood taxpayers $34 a year and Langford taxpayers $50 a year, according to the presentation.

The presentation is an updated version of work that began in 2012, Hamilton said.

Colwood has already put forward several sites that could host a westside facility, which were vetted by council and assessed for suitability by consultants in the last round of this process.

“When you take the capacity that Colwood and Langford have out of the mix of a centralized [treatment plant] downtown, that gives the downtown and the project board a lot more options,” Hamilton said.

Langford Mayor Stew Young said he wants to see a treatment plant in the West Shore, to support its ballooning population.

He said he would endorse such a plan if Colwood committed to a site — but he was skeptical of a proposal that didn’t feature an ocean outfall.

“We rain a lot here. So to sit here and say you’re going to take all the sewage from Langford and Colwood and guarantee that, without a backup option, you’re not going to get your funding,” Young said.

“If Colwood picks a site and agrees to put a pipe out to the ocean, then we have something.”

He also said saving taxpayers money is his top priority.

“I’m not going to let this die until we find the cheapest way to deal with this,” he said.

Langford developer Bill Beadle, who sits on Langford’s sewage-oversight committee, is personally paying more than $20,000 US for a peer review of the project by New Jersey-based Natural Systems Utilities.

Local governments have already spent too much on sewage, and he said getting public support to invest in more reviews would be too slow and difficult to meet the project board’s deadlines.

“When I see something I can support, I say: ‘Put your money where your mouth is,’ ” Beadle said.

“Time is dear. It’s marching forward at a quick pace and we have to present a very clear proposal to the board and have all these ducks lined up and supported.”

Beadle said he’s associated with Titus Infrastructure, which put proposals for full-resource recovery methods before Colwood and Esquimalt in the past.

“I’ve also built a sewer plant in Mill Bay that is not unlike a mini-version of what we’re trying to do here,” he said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who chairs the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, said she wouldn’t comment on a specific presentation.

“Any citizen can make a presentation to the project board. I imagine this is part of the information-gathering they’re doing now,” she said.

The project board’s mandate is to review all information to date, listen to the public and develop an apolitical, technically sound and financially viable proposal by Sept. 14 that would see the project complete by the end of 2020.

“I don’t give any more weight to this presentation to the project board than I do to any of the other work that’s been done over the past year,” Helps said.

“It’s more information that the project board will be looking at. They can look at everything they want, as long as they bring us a solid proposal by the 14th of September.”

asmart@timescolonist.com

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