Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants Premier Christy Clark to intervene in the Capital Regional District’s sewage dispute.
In a joint letter to Clark with King County executive Dow Constantine, Inslee expresses frustration about the lack of progress in treating sewage in Victoria and the impact on the waters of Puget Sound.
“We urge you to take action on this issue and resolve this impasse to ensure the timely delivery of wastewater treatment for this rapidly growing region, currently exceeding 300,000 residents,” the letter states.
“Victoria’s current lack of wastewater treatment impacts the state of Washington, King County, and the more than 3.5 million residents of the Puget Sound. We all share the regional and international waterways with Greater Victoria.”
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The letter also states: “It is now more than 20 years since your province agreed to implement wastewater treatment in Greater Victoria, and yet today Victoria still lacks any treatment beyond simple screening. Past commitments have not been implemented. Delaying this work to 2020 is not acceptable.”
Inslee’s letter recalls that a Washington tourism boycott the CRD’s practice of pumping raw, screened sewage into the Straint of Juan de Fuca in 1993 saw some major conferences and hotel bookings in Victoria cancelled.
“That year, our two jurisdictions came to an agreement that Victoria would have primary sewage treatment in place by 2002 and secondary treatment between 2008 and 2013,” the letter says.
He notes that years later, former Washington governor Christine Gregoire added her support to B.C.’s bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics, provided Greater Victoria once again commit to move ahead with adequate wastewater treatment. In 2006, former B.C. environment minister Barry Penner directed theCRD to implement secondary wastewater treatment. Washington state residents and elected officials applauded in 2010 when Penner approved a wastewater strategy to provide sewage treatment by 2016.
“We are dismayed by the current developments concerning the construction of the wastewater treatment plant as part of Greater Victoria’s wastewater treatment strategy.
“While the district has an approved wastewater treatment strategy, its implementation appears to be stalled at the local level. After years of discussion, planning and commitments on an inter-governmental level, we urge you to get involved to ensure that this project moves forward.”
The letter warns that the issue could colour relations between Washington and B.C. on other issues if left unattended.
“We would hope that this issue can be resolved at the local and provincial level and strengthen the foundation for regional economic growth and national cooperation,” it reads.