Kilmer, Members of WA Delegation Call on Canadian Government to Stop Dumping Sewage Into the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) led a letter with members of the Washington state delegation to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark calling for an end to the dumping of raw sewage from Canada into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Recently, the government of British Columbia decided not to move forward with a sewage treatment plant in the Victoria region at McLoughlin Point. The Victoria area, home to 300,000 people, has pumped effluent into the waters across from Washington state for years. The treatment facility was supposed to be completed by 2018 until the local Canadian government decided to table the site.
The members pointed out the risks to fisheries, businesses, and healthy waters in their letter and that Canada must develop a new plan in a timely manner.
“We urge you to work with your colleagues at the local and federal level to find an agreeable solution so that an appropriate treatment facility is completed as soon as possible,” the members wrote in the letter sent today. “The strength of our economies in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia depends on the health of our waterways and natural resources. Washington state supports more than 67,000 commercial fishing jobs, in addition to our vibrant recreational fishing, boating, watersport, and tourism businesses. The practice of discharging this type and volume of waste violates environmental standards commonly held by our two nations.”
The letter was signed by Kilmer, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Representative Denny Heck (WA-10), Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02), Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Representative Jim McDermott (WA-07), and Representative Adam Smith (WA-09).
The full text of the letter follows.
June 13, 2014
The Honorable Christy Clark
M.L.A., Westside - Kelowna
Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W9E1
Dear Premier Clark:
We are very disappointed to learn that the development of a new sewage treatment facility at McLoughlin Point has been delayed. For the last 20 years, American citizens have waited for solutions to water quality issues linked to British Columbia’s sewage discharge. Unfortunately, while Canada has acknowledged the importance of addressing this concern, there is now no plan to mitigate the persistent water pollution from Victoria, British Columbia.
As you know, more than 82 million liters of effluent without secondary treatment is being dumped into our shared waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca every day. This type of pollution is not only detrimental to ecosystem vitality, but also can have dire human health consequences. This is simply unacceptable. We urge you to work with your colleagues at the local and federal level to find an agreeable solution so that an appropriate treatment facility is completed as soon as possible.
The strength of our economies in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia depends on the health of our waterways and natural resources. Washington state supports more than 67,000 commercial fishing jobs, in addition to our vibrant recreational fishing, boating, watersport, and tourism businesses. The practice of discharging this type and volume of waste violates environmental standards commonly held by our two nations. Furthermore, while significant treatment efforts have been made on the United States side of our maritime border, the effectiveness of these efforts is undermined without cross-border collaboration, treatment, and restoration activities.
In fact, scientists in both of our home countries have seen perpetually decreasing dissolved oxygen levels in our waters—an outcome linked with untreated sewage discharge. These changing dissolved oxygen levels endanger sensitive aquatic habitats vital to the Puget Sound’s marine economy. Together, we must work to ensure that we have adequate wastewater treatment facilities so that we can improve dissolved oxygen levels and the overall water quality in the Salish Sea to protect human health and the marine ecosystem.
Our countries have worked hard to coordinate international collaboration on major environmental problems in the past and we hope to work together to solve this problem. Since its inception in 2003, the U.S. and Canada have established the largest, most comprehensive ecosystem conference in the region – the biennial Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. This conference is a great example of how the U.S. and British Columbia have collaborated to bring together experts from interdisciplinary fields to discuss scientific research and chart a course for protecting and restoring the Salish Sea ecosystem.
The Salish Sea is an economic and cultural lifeline for the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. In fact, Washington state’s maritime economy supports 30 billion dollars in economic activity each year and provides 148,000 jobs. Due to the importance of these waters to both our countries, we ask that you work promptly to resolve this issue. Furthermore, as we continue to work towards restoring the Salish Sea for generations to come, we welcome ongoing collaboration on restoration, research and preservation efforts to best serve our people and our waterways. We hope you will stand with us as we work to improve the quality of our waters and reduce unnecessary pollution.