Gatineau to release 20 million litres of untreated sewage into the Lièvre River

Our director of operations in Quebec, Adele Michon, met the mayor of Gatineau and his infrastructure service team this morning to discuss a planned sewage release  in the east end of the City in Buckingham/Masson-Anger. The release of untreated sewage will begin on Monday and may last until Wednesday.  The release site is just upstream from where the Lièvre flows into the Ottawa River.

The City of Gatineau is releasing untreated sewage into the Lievre River while they do much needed maintenance work at one of the pumping station, where corrosion is so advanced that the potential for a pipe burst is significant.   

Between October 24-26, every time people in Buckingham/Masson-Anger flush their toilets and wash their dishes or laundry,  their polluted water will go straight into the Lièvre River without any filtration or treatment. The City estimates that they will release about 8 olympic size swimming pools worth of raw sewage into the river, however the final volume depends on how much water residents use during the maintenance period. Typical sewage contains pathogens, bacteria, viruses, pharmaceuticals, microplastics, nutrients and organic matter that consumes oxygen when released into water.

Spill Details:

Spill duration: 48h

Pumping station located on Chemin du Quai in the Masson-Angers sector

From 24 to 26 October 2016

Area affected:

All residents of Buckingham and Masson-Angers

Ottawa River users from Cumberland to Rockland

Gatineau City info: http://www.gatineau.ca/portail/default.aspx?p=la_ville/travaux_station_pompage_quai

Our Reaction

Ottawa Riverkeeper is not happy to learn that there will be over 20,000 m3 of untreated sewage released into the Lievre and Ottawa Rivers. This is not good news for the river. However, after meeting with the City of Gatineau about the planned spill, we understand that  the city is in a difficult position for which there are no reasonable alternatives.

Old, failing water infrastructure with limited capacity means that the cheapest and most feasible solution for dealing with sewage during maintenance is often a scheduled release directly into the river.  To prevent spills, there is an immediate need for significant investment in municipal water infrastructure – something we have been aware of for decades. Especially given future climate predictions, our water collection systems must include built-in redundancy and added capacity in order to eliminate all raw sewage releases into our water bodies. When untreated sewage is discharged into rivers, it comprises the health of the aquatic ecosystem and our ability to use the river to swim, drink and fish.  

We do not believe cities should be allowed to dump raw sewage into rivers. Unfortunately, there is no legal mechanism to prevent spills like this from taking place. In Canada, a planned sewage spill of this size is perfectly legal and requires no advanced permit. Crazy, right?

In the recent past, such planned raw sewage releases were common and unnoteworthy to most. However, the times are changing and people are demanding we stop treating our rivers like sewers. We saw that last November when Montreal’s “Flushgate” drew national attention. We are taking notice of a recent societal shift, recognizing how Canadians value our lakes, rivers and oceans. Most people in this country want rivers where we can safely swim, drink and fish!

We are thankful the City of Gatineau called Ottawa Riverkeeper to a meeting to inform us and other local interest groups about the spill. We welcome this transparency and spirit of collaboration and hope that it becomes a regular habit to notify the public about sewage spills when they happen.

What Can You Do?

Citizens in Buckingham/Masson-Anger can help reduce the volume of raw sewage spilled by minimizing household water use at home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Octobre 24 to 26). Together, residents could reduce by 50% the amount of sewage dumped into the river, from 20 million liters to 10 million litres.

Please consider reducing your water footprint:

  1. Avoid doing laundry for a few days (or get it all done by Sunday night)
  2. Wait until your dishwasher is completely full before you run it
  3. Use natural alternative when washing and cleaning around the house

 

Getting involved is an important step to improve our rivers’ health. Please reach out to the City of Gatineau (your councillor and mayor) and thank them for telling us about the planned spill. Then, let them know you want notifications every time the city releases untreated sewage into our rivers. That includes notice of combined sewer spills and spills from the sewage treatment plant during times of heavy rain. Citizens have the right to know, after all, the river belongs to all of us.

 

 

19 responses to “Gatineau to release 20 million litres of untreated sewage into the Lièvre River”

  1. be sure to check for evidence of mortality among mussels (fresh shells) downstream of the site after the spill

  2. Kathie O says:

    I live on the river and take my water through a sand point well. This is totally unacceptable. Anybody who made this decision want to come take a glass of water or have a shower from my house? What a stupid thing to do. What about treating it like an oil spill, picking up the debris and then dumping it into a legal dump site? I was just speaking to a friend in Buckingham and he wasn’t notified, I’m sure that’s the norm. Not everyone gets this paper. What the heck is the matter with the decision makers that makes any type of dumping into the/any waterways acceptable? What about the people who will be drinking this water or bathing in it that haven’t been notified? 2 days notice in a paper …….really? SHAME

  3. Janice Trudeau no relation says:

    How irresponsible. how you treat our water
    Itrust tjat the outcome of tjos decision will be in their water gladses at the table of their next meetings.

  4. Eve says:

    This is insane and ridiculously disgusting. So much for being a first world country, might as well just go take a shit in the Ottawa river. Goddamn this city is awful. I mean Ottawa is well known for Doing this virtually everytime it rains, their is a reason why the beaches here have ecoli warnings. If this is a constantly occurring problem you think they would try to find a way to fix it as opposed to letting nature to the brute force of our inability to cope with rain……

    This article actually makes me hate living in a city. Modern and civilized my ass. Even the Victorians figured out a way to stop dumping shit into the Thames.

  5. keith hamilton says:

    And Quebecers have the nerve to the block pipelines through their province but will blatantly dump sewage in a healthy river? What the hell!

  6. JC says:

    These are the same people that oppose Canadian Pipelines, Canadian technology and Canadian jobs …
    Nice skid mark Quebec!

  7. Tony warren says:

    We cripple our economy with carbon taxes for a theory that has proven inaccurate and unnecessary but polute our water with sewage over and over again.
    Our government is out of touch with reality.

  8. Peggy says:

    These are the people who don’t want a pipeline because of possible pollution yet will dump untreated sewage with all its pathogens into what used to be a clean river. Amazing.

  9. bob says:

    why are they allowed to do this when there are other alternatives available like mobile sewage treatment plants that could handle the waste till the plant rebuild was completed

  10. Petra Harris says:

    This should not be allowed! Their old equipment should have been dealt with years ago, sticking their heads in the toilet didn’t make the old machinery NEW. Infrastructure is expense, they needed to stay on top of it, now they want to pass the shit to us by dumping raw sewage in the rivers, No, No, No. they get enough money from the government, like all other provinces, deal with it, and solve the problem without dumping!!

  11. Eman says:

    This is absolute b.s. Complete hypocrisy coming out of the east again.

  12. Darryl says:

    20000m3 is used so it doesn’t seem so bad to Quebecers, let’s try this out 20,000,000 litres raw sewage to mix into your water table, and that also with water tables down stream. There should be a plan to capture, clean, treat, and release as fresh water. But I know it’s easier to just dump into the river and forget.

  13. Personally, I would place act such as this a far greater danger to our environment than the ‘climate warming, ‘ which is getting so much coverage (and, of course, is a tax grab) and a verbal sleigh ride for political gain.

  14. Peter Hoover says:

    Dumping raw sewage into rivers and lakes is totally illegal in the USA. Shame on Canada!

  15. Dan says:

    This is fucking insane! Destroy our waterways because we are too lazy to figure out other alternatives?! The fact that this is not illegal, let alone unethical, is unbelievable! Gather privately owned pumping trucks and have them bring it to a remote field where leaching into underground water veins wouldn’t be so bad. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to figure it out.

    After that, our government needs to periodically pump OUT the existing water from the Ottawa River and purify it on an ongoing basis, so the people of Ottawa can enjoy nature, and be proud to live around it, in their city.

    Members of parliament all have the luxury of buying extravagant cottages in distant corners of Ontario and Quebec, without worries of the bodies of water in front of so many people who cannot get away to better aquatic environments. Shame on them, and shame on us for allowing it to happen.

    With the indulgent over-use of our potable water in all major cities, it won’t be long before we have none left. And then what? Politicians will make empty promises about trying to resurrect a cause that can’t be saved. I’m embarrassed to call myself an inhabitant of nature. We are all merely slaves of our own natural, catastrophic demise.

  16. Douglas Balfour says:

    This is absolutly disgusting to think that Quebec
    Just dumps raw sewage and probably any thing
    else they want. What realy gets me is there are thousands if not tens of thousands of people living along and near the river. Whats wrong with the provincial and federal governments they all suck.

  17. Craig says:

    how can you label this a SPILL ?? a spill is an unplanned event.. this city is pre-planning to pump sewage into the fresh water system ..as a cost saving measure !!! after spending 25 years in the oil and gas industry and seeing heavy govt fines to companies for the exact same sewage “spill” really makes me wonder there are laws for the people and laws for the law enforcers …
    Where are all the environmental protesters that hound the oil and gas exportation? as this “spill” (20,000,000 liters is most likely down played estimate at best … but I guess the protesters are not paid to go after anything but Canadian exports of oil and gas as surely any true believer in environmental stewardship would be on this in bus loads …

  18. Dan L says:

    Quebec is the only province that does not participate in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System. Doing this a couple of months following the “Heritage Designation” of the Ottawa river says a lot about their twisted sense of value for the environment. Shame on you… disgusting.

  19. Eric Seguin says:

    This is brilliant and it happens way too often. Case in point, every 3 years the municipality forces me to have my septic system pumped and disposed of by Chelsea or Gatineau. The bill costs 400$ every three years! So city takes my money and then decides that it can’t deal with that much dirty water that it dumps it in the river!? Are you kidding me!? My septic system was way more environmentally friendly then this. What’s the world coming too!

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