Storm rains cause sewage overflow on southern Vancouver Island

·2 min read

Victoria residents are being told to avoid certain shorelines in Saanich and Oak Bay, B.C., because of a possible health risk posed by the presence of raw sewage.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) issued the advisory after heavy storm rains hammered south Vancouver Island Saturday.

The district says that caused combined stormwater and wastewater overflows.

The affected areas include:

  • Between Arbutus Cove Lane and Telegraph Bay Road in Saanich

  • Between Tarn Place (Oak Bay) and Seaview Road (Saanich) including Cadboro Bay

  • Between Trafalgar Park and Radcliffe Lane including McNeill Bay in Oak Bay

According to a statement from the CRD, people should avoid entering the water at these spots until sample results show it is safe to return.

The status of the advisories and future updates can be found on the district's website.

There was a congratulatory tone last month as the CRD's long-anticipated McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Esquimalt, B.C., began operations.

The long-awaited, much-debated facility officially is designed to end the discharge of Greater Victoria's untreated sewage into the ocean.

Previously, raw sewage was passed through a six-millimetre screen to remove solids, then released into the Strait of Juan de Fuca at an outlet near Victoria's Clover Point.

Capital Regional District
Capital Regional District

Problem soon fixed says local mayor

According to Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch, there are still some aspects of the plant that are under construction, including a main downstream pipe and a holding tank near the University of Victoria.

Murdoch said the pipe work should be completed in a few weeks and the holding tank by May.

"[That] should get us to zero overflow soon," said Murdoch.

Efforts to bring sewage treatment to Greater Victoria stretch back decades. Some important years in the timeline include:

  • 1992: CRD voters oppose a primary or secondary sewage treatment system in a non-binding regional referendum.

  • 1998: An advisory committee is appointed by the CRD to revive the issue and make recommendations.

  • 2000: The CRD is called upon to submit a 25-year sewage treatment plan to the B.C. environment minister.

  • 2008: B.C.'s minister of the environment orders the CRD to start treating its raw sewage.

  • 2010: The environment minister issues a new ultimatum, calling for details of the treatment plan by late spring.

  • 2012: New federal regulations require the CRD to have a treatment plant up and running by the end of 2020.