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Controversial sewage facility in Victoria, B.C. nears completion

Adrian Florez

Victoria, British Columbia, is about ready to finally stop dumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A new $580 million treatment plant will be up and running by the end of this year.

The almost completed sewage facility is controversial. U.S. politicians and environmentalists have wanted it for a long time. Others assert the natural currents of the Strait of Juan de Fuca naturally break down the effluent.

One of them is Tom Pedersen, a professor emeritus from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria.

“We ignored that in favor of political expediency,” Pedersen said. “When the various governments, both provincial and federal, decided that we would spend a lot of taxpayers’ money to build a plant, which in fact, there is no scientific rationale to justify the construction of that plant.”

Colin Plant disagrees. He's the chair of the Capital Regional District, which is building the facility along with additional funding from the Canadian and British Columbian governments.

“Regardless if the ocean could deal with it by dispelling it with dispersing it with a high current and a high level of oxygen, it's just not the thing we want to be teaching our children to do with wastewater,” he said, “that you just put it into the ocean and treat it as if it was just somehow nature's toilet. It's not.”

Greater Victoria is the last coastal region in Canada to stop dumping raw sewage into the ocean.

The plant and supporting infrastructure has been under construction for the past four years.  The Canadian government has mandated that all sewage in the country be treated by end of 2020.