Plans for expanded waterway access raise concerns about sewage runoff into St. Lawrence
Published Tuesday, August 26, 2014 5:24PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:04PM EDT
Troubling reports are showing that sewage water has been making its way into the St. Lawrence River – as the city plans to expand access to the waterway.
Testing has found extremely high levels of coliform in the river following heavy rainfalls, sometimes as high as thousands of times above acceptable levels for swimming.
That’s a concern for Hugo Lavictoire, the general manager of KSF, a surf and kayak company operating on the St. Lawrence.
“All we can see is the colour of the water and smell of the water, but after many years swimming in the water, you can easily understand that after big rains, it's not good to go. We should wait 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
Instead of flowing into sewers, excess ends up in the river, and takes as many as two days to wash away.
“Because we are surrounded by a megasewer on the island of Montreal, what happens is when it rains, the megasewer gets too full of water and the sewage has to go somewhere,” explained Daniel Green of the Societe pour vaincre la pollution.
The city says it's in the process of building large overflow basins to prevent this problem.
“The first one is already in construction,” explained executive committee member Chantal Rouleau. “The money was there for those basins and the plans are made and we have to build it.”
In the meantime, she said the city posts the water testing results on their website.
That's not good enough, said Projet Montreal's environment critic Sylvain Ouellet.
“The information is really hard to find right now. It’s not easy for the population, that's why we're asking for a real-time application where the water is great and when,” he said.
The information is vital as the city plans on opening more beaches along the St. Lawrence. Making sure beaches are safe will take more than just infrastructure, said Daniel Green.
“Its' a new ballgame with these beaches,” he said. “We have to do newer testing and quicker testing.”
“I think there's already a prejudice about the river. We try and tell them the river quality is very good. Come,” he said.