Colwood, B.C., has decided to postpone a $2 million environmental assessment report that was being conducted to understand the feasibility of discharging effluent into the ground, instead of the ocean.

The assessment would have have been in preparation for a facility that would be constructed once the city’s current wastewater  treatment facilities had met capacity, projected to be around 2040.

The concept of having several of these smaller facilities in various municipalities was explored by the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board, but in the end was rejected in favour of a single, large, centralized wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt.

The final plan includes a provision for a future wastewater treatment facility in Colwood when the McLoughlin Plant reaches capacity in 2040.

To prepare for a future plant in Colwood, the Project Board for Core Area Wastewater Treatment recommended that $2 million be set aside to complete the environmental impact assessment to determine the viability of discharging treated effluent into the ground in Colwood.

Changes in technology, ecological conditions, consumer habits and political leadership may significantly change the region’s approach to wastewater treatment in that time, particularly considering that about 30 per cent of Colwood homes are currently connected to sewers.

“We did our best to steer the wastewater treatment plan in a better direction,” said Mayor Carol Hamilton. “At this point it doesn’t make sense to continue to put more effort, more money, more resources into a study that will sit on a shelf for 20 years. It would not be a prudent use of taxpayer dollars.”

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Colwood Council voted unanimously on November 14 to request that the Project Board postpone the environmental impact assessment until the McLouglin Point wastewater treatment plant is within an estimated 5 years of capacity. They will also ask that the funds to carry out the study be set aside in a reserve fund.

Groundwater data that has been gathered to date provides Colwood with considerable value. The City has a much better understanding of Colwood’s geology and watersheds as a result of this work, which will support any future facility, as well as rainwater management planning.

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