British Columbia

Decades of dumping raw sewage is killing Victoria's ocean floor, diver claims

A long-time commercial diver says the ocean floor near Victoria is dying after decades of raw sewage dumping.

'The farther away you get from Victoria, the more diverse and vibrant the marine environment becomes'

Commercial diver Allan Crow has documented what he claims is the dying ocean bed near Victoria. He believes it's caused by the city's practice of dumping raw, untreated sewage into coastal waters. (Allan Crow/YouTube)

A commercial diver is claiming that decades of dumping raw sewage off Victoria's coast is slowly killing its surrounding ocean beds.

Allan Crow, a fisherman, commercial diver and member of the Victoria Sewage Treatment Alliance, has been diving in these waters for 35 years.

"I've observed over a long period of time ... subtle changes. It has escalated for sure in the last 10-15 years."

Crow claims these changes are a result of the decades-long practice of raw sewage from Victoria and the surrounding area being dumped directly into the ocean.

Proponents of the practice have said that treatment isn't necessary because ocean currents flush the sewage away.

But Crow says areas near the sewage discharge pipes are full of sick kelp, polluted scallops and layers of thick sediment — which he has filmed and documented.

He claims these dead zones are the direct result of sewage, because areas out of the sewage discharge stream remain healthy.

"Once you get out of the tidal ranges of the outfall, the impacts are difficult to see. The further away you get from Victoria, the more diverse and vibrant the marine environment becomes."

Sewage treatment plan finally approved

Crow says a sewage treatment plan for the region is long overdue.

"It's time to get on with it ... This is a chapter that many residents would like to get passed and get the shovels in the ground."

It looks like he'll get his wish.

On Wednesday, the Capital Regional District voted in favour of building a regional sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt.

The CRD faces a deadline of 2020 to provide secondary sewage treatment.

A still from Allan Crow's video documenting evidence of ocean floor damage around Victoria due to raw sewage. (Allan Crow/YouTube)

With files from On the Island

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Decades of dumping raw sewage is killing the ocean floor near Victoria, diver claims