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Gov't sidesteps sewage issue

British Columbia's environment minister says she won't intervene in the dispute over a sewage treatment facility for Victoria-area communities, but she warns millions in government funds are in danger of being flushed away if project deadlines are missed.

Mary Polak says the BC government will not force the Township of Esquimalt to locate a proposed $783 million sewage treatment plant on its waterfront.

Esquimalt council's decision to reject the Capital Regional District plant threatens to delay the project's 2018 completion timeline, and could result in the loss of more than $500 million in federal and provincial funding.

The regional district pumps about 130 million litres of sewage into the Juan de Fuca Strait daily.

The sewage debate has been raging for decades, with environmentalists and downstream communities complaining of pollution, while scientists say the ocean acts as a natural toilet that flushes and disperses waste with minimal environmental impact.

Polak says the district's treatment plant will inevitably be built, but further delays could see taxpayers footing the entire bill.

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