One of the great and spectacular trips in the Northwest is the ferry ride from Washington over to Victoria, British Columbia. It's not, however, quite as super, natural as British Columbia might like, for this reason: For years, Victoria has been dump raw, untreated sewage into the water, in the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
This seems a surprisingly third-worldish thing to do, for a country so self-consciously green in many ways. But there is, and might have continued for a long time. But it appears to be headed toward a welcome conclusion in another year or two, due largely to an external influence: The coming arrival, in 2010, of the Olympics games at Vancouver, activities of which will be spread around southwest British Columbia.
Joel Connelly's column today in the Seattle P-I lays out some of this. "Bluntly put, green games could not coexist with the brown reality of "Victoria's Secret" -- the daily discharge of 31 million gallons of untreated sewage into a waterway shared by the U.S., Canada, salmon runs and endangered marine mammals," he wrote. "The province's touristy capital dumps a volume of effluent into the strait that would fill 40,000 Olympic-size swimming pools each year."
This may be the single most valuable thing the games do for the Northwest.