Thursday, February 9, 2023
February 9, 2023

Editorial: The latest scoop on the island’s poop

When a problem is out of sight it is easily out of mind.

That’s certainly the case with Salt Spring’s “poop problem” and the Burgoyne septage facility operated by the Capital Regional District (CRD).

For the past five years Mary Richardson has chaired the commission that makes decisions about the Burgoyne facility’s operation. It has the longest name of all the local commissions: the Salt Spring Island Liquid Waste Disposal Local Services Commission. Also long is the Burgoyne facility’s unfortunate history of not operating properly and/or referendum funds not solving problems voters assumed would be addressed when they approved borrowing for infrastructure improvements at the site. That occurred with referendums held in both 1993 and 2008.

But Richardson feels the commission’s most recent decision, to have the CRD hire a consultant to examine affordable ways to at least dewater the septage on-island rather than truck the whole works off the island for treatment is a step in the right direction. The hope is that a consultant will examine innovative, lower-cost options scaled for Salt Spring’s needs and the Burgoyne site.

The 2022 liquid waste service’s million-dollar operating budget included about $600,000 to pay Coast Environmental to truck the waste — which is 98 per cent water — to a treatment facility off island, where it is made into a Class-A biosolid used for fertilizing purposes.

The liquid waste commission would ideally like to be able to create and use those biosolid products on Salt Spring, eliminating the need for any trucking of waste off the island. But Richardson says the CRD prohibits their use in its region, which is not the case in the rest of B.C. or Canada. That is perhaps a policy that should be re-examined by the CRD and changed. Until then, just reducing the volume of septage that must be trucked to a Vancouver Island treatment facility would be a huge improvement.

While past history makes it difficult to have faith that the Burgoyne septic site can operate as envisioned, the beginning of a new year is an ideal time to be optimistic. We hope the options analysis comes up with some workable solutions for Salt Spring’s longstanding liquid waste problem.

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