CRD sees no risk to Victoria’s drinking water from soil dump

Cobble Hill Holdings’ contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake poses no danger to Victoria’s drinking water supply, Capital Regional District staff say.

Regional water supply staff came to the conclusion after reviewing reports and testimony given during a recent Environmental Appeal Board hearing into the company’s plans.

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The board was hearing an appeal of a permit that allowed Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates to receive up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil a year at a quarry on Stebbings Road. The Environmental Appeal Board said the permit should stand. After their review, CRD staff concluded:

• There is no potential for contamination from the landfill site to Sooke Lake Reservoir or the Goldstream reservoirs via surface water flow. Surface water leaving the site flows into streams that feed Shawnigan Lake. Heights of land restrict water from flowing into the Sooke and Goldstream watersheds, which supply Greater Victoria’s water.

• There is virtually no potential for contamination spreading from the soil-containment system.

Multiple layers of protection would have to fail simultaneously for contaminants to escape the site, the staff report says. Based on the permit requirements and site plans, staff conclude there is no evidence to suggest contaminants will not be held by the system as designed.

• There is little potential for contaminated site surface water entering groundwater. CRD staff found insufficient evidence to conclude that the bedrock is fractured, connected and permeable to the extent that surface water from the site is conducted into groundwater.

• Groundwater in the area flows to the north and northwest in the direction of Shawnigan Lake, rather than west to Sooke Lake Reservoir or southwest to the Goldstream system reservoirs, the report says.

The estimated groundwater travel time for the distance to Shawnigan Lake from the site given a groundwater connection is 100 to 6,000 years, based on evidence heard during the appeal.

Based on the information, groundwater is not moving from beneath the site to Sooke Lake or Goldstream reservoirs, the report says. Members of the CRD regional water supply commission simply received the report.

In 2013, the CRD urged the province to deny the permit and asked staff to conduct an analysis on potential effects to the CRD’s water supply at Sooke Lake.

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