Sooke is first community in British Columbia to integrate both rainwater and sanitary in a Liquid Waste Management Plan



District of sooke - satellite view

Sooke Approves Cutting-Edge Liquid Waste Management Plan

The District of Sooke has taken concrete steps to protect the Sooke Harbour and Sooke Basin from the environmental pressures of urban development with an innovative Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) approved by the Ministry of Environment.


Guiding Principles

Sooke has exceeded provincial requirements for liquid waste management and created a rainwater management plan that makes protecting water quality a guiding principle in land use decisions. It works on three principles:

  • protect existing water quality,
  • prevent future damage, and
  • remediate areas that may already be damaged.

As part of the plan, district is establishing an extensive water quality monitoring program on the community’s 17 watersheds and the Sooke harbour and basin.


Scope of Rainwater Management

Rainwater will be managed through low-impact development techniques, best management practices, marine environmental protection, spill prevention and rainwater management education.

  • The plan includes strict controls requiring each development site to manage its own stormwater.
  • Road design and construction will incorporate rainwater management principles, including the use of fewer impervious surfaces, while integrating low-impact design features that allow better control of the rate that rainwater flows into streams.
  • It also puts strict controls on rainwater discharges to Sooke harbour and basin.

Sooke aims to improve water quality in the harbour and basin to the point where a longstanding ban on shellfish harvesting can be lifted.


Management of Aquatic Environment

The LWMP also prohibits developments from discharging sewage into Sooke harbour and basin or to water courses leading to the harbour and basin. This will protect the environment by promoting development in areas supported by the district’s Official Community Plan.

A partnership has been formed between Ministry of Environment, the District of Sooke, the Capital Regional District, Environment Canada and local First Nations to provide long-term management of Sooke’s aquatic environment.

This integrated approach of monitoring, infrastructure design and a multi-government partnership will ensure a high water quality standard for today and for the future.


Quotable Quotes

Dr. terry lake (130p) - bc minister of environmentMinister of Environment Terry Lake – “Sooke is just one of several communities in B.C. that are facing development pressures, and Sooke has responded to those pressures by being a true leader in environmental sustainability. The district’s plan for managing its liquid waste is cutting-edge and a model for other communities. The leadership that Sooke is showing will have real, measurable benefits in the watershed and will lead to a healthier environment.”

Mayor janet evans (120p) - district of sookeSooke Mayor Janet Evans – “Sooke is proud of its natural environment. And as the first community in British Columbia to integrate both rainwater and sanitary in a liquid waste management plan, we now have the tools to protect the watersheds and the Sooke Harbour and Basin for future generations.”


Quick Facts

  • Local governments are required to submit an updated liquid waste management plan to the Ministry of Environment every five years for approval.
  • The ministry carefully reviews submitted plans to ensure they meet the requirements of the Environmental Management Act, which include: sewer discharges, combined sewer overflows, urban storm water runoff management, pump station overflows, and subdivision on-site disposal. The plan must address the implications of future growth and provide cost estimates per household to implement the plan.
  • Local governments are also required to consult the community, including local First Nations, before submitting the plan to the ministry.
  • Sooke met or exceeded all requirements and went above and beyond in developing a comprehensive rainwater management strategy.


To Learn More:

To read a story published previously on Water Bucket, click on Rainwater Management in Sooke: District develops BC’s first ‘Liquid Waste Management Plan for Rainwater’. The District of Sooke is a featured case study in Beyond the Guidebook 2010.



The Liquid Waste Management Plan for Rainwater was developed by a team that comprised District staff and consultants Rob Miller of Downstream Environmental, Lehna Malmkvist of Swell Environmental Consulting and Rick Lloyd of RCL Consulting Ltd.


More Quotable Quotes

Rick lloyd (120p)“It took 2 years and lots of extra effort to get a final document, but it seems to have been worthwhile. The municipal specifications were also redone at that time. All in all a pretty good effort,” reflects Rick Lloyd.

“The entire three stage process actually took place over a five year period from 2005 to 2010,” continues Rob Miller.  “After approving Stage 1 in early 2008, the Province allowed Rob miller (120p)us to combine Stages 2 and 3. The plan was completed in March 2010, received by Council and then forwarded to the Provincial Ministry of Environment. The approval process took approximately one year. The approved plan will be used as a template for future LWMP (Rainwater) plans.” 

Lehna malmkvist (120p)“The District of Sooke is looking to the future and has already begun implementing the LWMP (Rainwater),” adds Lehna Malmkvist.  “This includes the completion to date of comprehensive Rainwater Management Plans (RMPs) for four watersheds with more to follow.  The RMPs will help to ensure that on the ground decisions will protect and improve the health of aquatic ecosystems in Sooke.”


Posted May 2011