VICTORIA -- It cost $775 million to build and took five years to complete. It’s the CRD’s sewage treatment plant, and so far, it’s not functioning as it should.

“One has to wonder what we got for $800 million,” said Hugh Stephens, vice chair of the Mount Work Coalition.

The plant was touted as the CRD’s sewage solution. Instead of pumping treated waste into the ocean, the region’s sewage would be turned into tiny pellets and sent to the Lafarge cement plant in Richmond, to be burned as an alternative to coal.

“Apparently, the anaerobic digester’s not working; the dryer’s not working,” said Stephens.

Right now, the pellets don’t meet Lafarge’s specifications, as they are not the right size, so the CRD had to do something with the biosolids the plant was producing.

“Right now, it’s just being dug in trenches and put into the landfill,” said Stephens.

Neighbours of the facility at Hartland Landfill have concerns about that.

“If there’s anything that goes wrong, Todd Creek is done, Saanich Inlet is done,” said Stephens. “You know, there have been issues in the past with leachate coming out.”

Mike Hicks sits on the CRD board. He admits there are issues with the plant.

“You know, all my life I’ve had engines, outboards,” said Hicks. “I’ve built fishing lodges, and once in a while I just got a lemon and no matter what I did to it, I just couldn’t get it to work. I really hope this isn’t one of those lemons.”

He’s confident that a fix will come, but in the meantime he feels for the people living and visiting the area around Hartland Landfill.

“The poor people of Willis Point are enduring this terrible stench as they do this, and hikers,” said Hicks. “It’s not good and it can only get better.”

The CRD says a fix is on it’s way.

Glenn Harris, senior manager of the CRD’s Environmental Protection Division, describes the issue as a mechanical one.

“We’re simply going to get a sieve in place where we can actually make sure that we can shake through the pellets and get them down to a size that Lafarge, the cement facility, can handle,” Harris said. “That’s a mechanical solution and we have that on order and we expect that to be in place in the next few weeks.”

Because of the project agreement, it won’t cost taxpayers any more money.

“(The contractors who did the work are) obligated and they have the liability to resolve the issues with the plant,” said Harris. “So they have an incentive to fix this as soon as possible.”

The CRD is hoping to have the problem resolved and to begin shipping bio-solids to Richmond this summer.