State employees would be prohibited from business travel to Victoria, B.C., until the city stops dumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, under a proposal by Rep. Jeff Morris.
“We’ve been waiting more than 20 years for Victoria-area cities to stop polluting our shared water,” Morris (D-Mount Vernon) said. “There have been many promises, orders from the BC provincial government to build primary sewage treatment, but no action. In the meantime, their sewage continues to flow into our shared Strait.”
By some estimates the Vancouver Island cities are dumping more than 34 million gallons of raw sewage into the Strait every day. Various news sources say Victoria is the last major city on the west coast to not have primary sewage treatment in place.
Morris, who represents the 40th legislative district – which includes the San Juan Islands and the coastline from Anacortes north to Bellingham – is proposing that no state money be used to fund state employee business trips to Victoria and surrounding areas.
“What is most irritating is that cities like Anacortes and Port Angeles did costly secondary sewage treatment decades ago while Victoria, BC, is dumping raw sewage still,” said Morris.
PPP Canada, a federal Crown corporation that could be the source of about $83 million for the primary sewage treatment plant, has set a March 31 deadline for a properly zoned site. That deadline was already extended by one year.
“There’s not a lot we can do to force another country’s municipalities to step into the 21st century,” Morris said. “What we can do is send a message and the timing is right now for that message to be sent with the March 31 funding deadline pending."
Morris has proposed language in the state’s operating budget to restrict state employee travel. If adopted by both the Washington State House of Representatives and Senate and signed into law by the governor, state business travel would not be allowed until primary sewage treatment has started; or July 1, 2017 if the budget proviso is not reauthorized.