By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Kilmer, a Port Angeles native and Gig Harbor Democrat whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, sent a July 3 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking that she raise with the Canadian government the need for “a speedy resolution” to Victoria dumping about 34 million gallons of raw sewage per day into the Strait directly across from the North Olympic Peninsula.
“Having grown up on the north shore of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, I am deeply aware of the effects that ongoing water pollution has had and will continue to have on our own environment and marine economy,” Kilmer wrote in the letter.
“I would appreciate your honoring this request and sharing any feedback you receive from the Canadian delegation.”
Kilmer is vying for a second term in this year’s Congressional elections and faces three opponents in the Aug. 5 primary.
Kilmer’s July letter joins two others sent in June by Kilmer’s colleagues in Congress and Gov. Jay Inslee to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark urging expedited action on the sewage discharge.
In the July 3 letter, Kilmer asked McCarthy to raise the issue at the annual meeting of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation on July 16-17 in Yellow Knife in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
The commission is a group of representatives of the U.S., Canada and Mexico that addresses environmental concerns shared by the three nations.
“As the U.S. delegation to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation engages with international counterparts, it is my hope that you will seize this opportunity to discuss the pressing need for the Canadian government to promptly take meaningful steps to ensure secondary treatment of British Columbia’s raw sewage and join as full partners in promoting the health of our shared waters,” Kilmer wrote.
Victoria’s untreated sewage flows directly into the Strait from two outfalls at Clover Point.
Kilmer said in his letter that the EPA has noted a correlation with this dumping and decreasing levels of dissolved oxygen in the Salish Sea, which includes the Strait, Puget Sound and the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands.
In May, Clark’s government refused to force upon the Victoria-area township of Esquimalt the regional district’s plans to locate a proposed $783 million ($721.6 million U.S.) treatment facility on the shores of the community.
The plan was to have the raw sewage undergo treatment by 2020 from McLoughlin Point near the entrance to Victoria Harbour.
“Part of the goal here is to raise the issue at the highest levels of government,” Kilmer said.
“Having the EPA administrator engage the Canadian leadership on this hopefully would get this moving forward.
“I’d like to see Canada solve its sewage problems.
“We keep pride in our environment and keep it clean.
“We’ve waited long enough for them to do something about it.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.