In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, sewage is discharged to the marine environment after preliminary treatment by screening. In 1992, the CRD undertook related technical investigations including studies of the ocean sediments in the area of the two main outfalls. The results of these investigations, together with information concerning other aspects of liquid waste management, were then described as part of a public involvement program which culminated in a referendum held in November 1992. The referendum invited the public to choose from three options for land-based sewage treatment. All three options included programs such as source control, that offered clear environmental benefits. The majority of voters (56%) decided in favour of the option which includes continuation of the existing level of sewage treatment. This paper describes the process followed, and shows how good science, effective communication, and public involvement can aid a rational approach to decision-making about marine environmental management and wastewater treatment utilizing submarine outfalls. It also highlights some important points concerning development of community and environmental priorities, identification of stakeholders, public involvement, and the role of independent scientific assessment.

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