Further to our telephone discussion this week, where you were unhappy with the fact that you didn’t know who to talk to for information on various issues, most specifically posting public health advisory notices at the beach. There are several inter-related responsibilities here between the District of Saanich, The CRD and Island Health. Hopefully I can clear up your confusion.
The District of Saanich operates and maintains the storm drainage and sanitary sewage collection system in Cadboro Bay. The CRD operates and maintains the trunk sanitary sewer system ( the East Coast Interceptor) which carries the collected municipal sewage to the Clover Point Outfall along the coast line of Cadboro Bay. Island Health has the responsibility to post a health advisory when fecal coliform and enterococci bacterial counts are over provincial guidelines.
Under the Liquid Waste Management Plan, the CRD does test storm outfalls around the region for contamination. these results are provided to the appropriate municipality. The CRD also samples upstream of the outfall in cooperation with the municipalities to help the municipalities find and correct any sources of contamination. In addition BST testing is carried out to determine if the bacterial contamination came from a human source or from some other source such as bird, dogs or other animals. The testing is not definitive but it can be used to get a"feel" for the likely source of the bacteria. The CRD has been very helpful to Saanich in this regard.
Also under the Waste Management Plan, overflows can occur at some locations. In the case of Cadboro Bay the relevant locations are the Humber and Rutland pump stations on the East Coast Interceptor. When this happens, a protocol has been developed where the CRD takes the initiative, places an advisory notice, notifies Island Health and initiates a sampling program in the ocean. This testing program is to determine when the health advisory can be lifted.
As you know there has been a public health advisory posted at Cadboro Bay for some time. This is because fecal coliform and enterococci bacterial counts have been above provincial guidelines well after overflows had stopped. This phenomenon had not been observed before and the testing led the CRD and Saanich to examine the discharges from the storm drainage systems in Cadboro Bay. One minor discharge was found to be contaminated with sewage. The CRD carried out testing upstream and we were able to locate a source emanating from private property. This problem has been corrected by the homeowner. However, the largest source bacterial contamination is Hobbs Creek. BST testing indicates that the source is mostly birds (probably waterfowl) with some ruminant (possibly deer) input. Since there is no indication here that sewage is getting into the drain system, there is not a problem that can be corrected by the municipality. The source is natural and is related to the waterfowl that use Mystic Pond and other ponds on Hobbs Creek. This may have been occurring undetected for years or possibly decades. This does not change the fact that the counts are above provincial guidelines and Island Health must keep the advisory in place.
I have contacted Island Health and they have given me a website that you can check to find out the status of the Cadboro Bay advisory. The following is the information from Erwin Dyck at Island Health:
Here’s the link to our website information. It also includes criteria for deciding when to post an advisory.
If I’m not in the office, the public can also contact Craig Nowakowski at email@example.com or 250-519-3401. Or they can call Cole Diplock who is our recreational water specialist at 250-737-2011 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Erwin Dyck, BSc, CPHIC
Supervisor, Health Protection
As I mentioned on the telephone, the public can contact me with questions regarding Saanich’s sewer and drain systems. I will however be on holidays for the next two weeks.
Dwayne Halldorson, P.Eng.
Manager, Underground Services
District of Saanich
770 Vernon Ave.
Victoria, BC V8X 2W7