Business lobbying and clean rivers don’t mix in Wakefield, Quebec

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by admin on March 31, 2010

The Editor,

I really enjoyed reading Gilles Chartrand’s apoplectic letter in last week’s Low Down (March 17 edition), regarding the septic treatment plant issue. I don’t know what in my letter March 10 caused Mr. Chartrand to pen such an excrementally effusive response, since all I said basically was that we now have the time to do a proper study of where and how the septic waste should be disposed, and not rush into a decision we will regret later. That isn’t NIMBY-ism, Mr. Chartrand, it’s called “smart development.”

Mr. Chartrand, who owns Oops Pompage Septik, suggests that no study should be done, and that we simply dump the treated waste into the nearest river, because that’s what La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere wants. This would be the same mayor who is trying to turn the entrance to Wakefield into another St. Joseph Blvd. You say he is “taking the bull by the horns?” It’s more like “a bull in a china shop.”

There are so many misrepresentations in Mr. Chartrand’s letter that I can’t correct them all; I will simply direct interested readers back to my March 10 letter. The Ottawa Citizen article, from which I quoted, on this issue can be found at: www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Gatineau+treat+septic+tank+waste/2589778/story.html.

For area newcomers who might have been confused by Mr. Chartrand saying that the Pontiac is not a separate MRC to MRC des Collines, well don’t be. Visit this website: www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca. Pontiac is that lovely region just to the west of here. And yes, apparently we are talking about the combined waste from 45,000 septic tanks in both MRCs. As for his saying that “very few” people use the Gatineau River for recreation, well, that is such obvious nonsense I wonder if he has ever looked at the river during the spring, summer and fall.

My comment about chlorine disinfection of sewage effluent is based on a 30-plus-year career in environmental chemistry, which includes studies of the effects of treated sewage effluent on receiving waters. There are several alternative technologies available, but if you do not disinfect waste in some way, then you discharge a bacterial broth into the river – not good healthwise. Using chlorine may be a good, cheap method because the effluent could be chemically neutralized (at extra cost) before it is discharged.

Nothing in Mr. Chartrand’s letter changes my opinion that treating and discharging septic waste should be based on scientific findings with preserving a given river for all its users – human and otherwise – the key objective. Business lobbying – the old-boys network – and Mayor Bussiere’s desire for ever-more taxes should have nothing to do with it. But, of course, this is La Peche.

Peter Outridge

Farrellton, Quebec