Communities should waste no effort in uniting needs, values


by admin on April 20, 2011

The Editor,


With the growing sewage treatment demands being placed on Chelsea, Quebec and our neighbours upstream in Farrellton, it comes as no surprise that this issue needs to be addressed.

Relying on the vintage “sludge” technology that all too often contaminates waterways and smells like (well, you know what), is not the answer. To me, these eyesores are in direct contrast with the environmental community spirit that we know and love. Yet, like the good book says, “everyone poops.”

I propose to cannibalize these old ideas, replacing them with an environmentally/community-conscious solution. An example of this exists at Bear River, N.S., recipient of the “1995 Sustainable Community Award.”

The first of its kind in Canada, this facility relies on a series of natural ecosystems (containing bacteria, algae, plankton, snails, fish and plants) to process and purify sewage.

Twelve solar treatment tanks (five feet high, six feet in diameter) are gravity fed into each other prior to the solar pond. Each tank acts as a mini-ecosystem to process the waste, followed by a solar pond (about 30 feet x 20 feet x 9.5 feet deep).

All of this is housed within a greenhouse, thereby promoting plant growth which is visually appealing but more importantly, a toxin reducer. Even tomato plants have mischievously appeared.

Overall, the facility processes 15,000 imperial gallons of waste per day yet still maintains the capacity to increase production to 100,000 gallons per day. Finally, the resulting effluent is treated with ultraviolet light and gravity fed into the Bear River Estuary. This effluent often exceeds environmental standards. As an added precaution, a reed bed has been laid as a further filtering system.

This is an odourless, “environmentally friendly” solution meeting community needs with community values. Economically, Bear River benefits from this facility as well, becoming somewhat an environmentalist tourist attraction with thousands of visitors every year. Due to the success of the Bear River treatment facility, a facility having a four times larger production capacity has been constructed in Beaverbank, N.S.

The Bear River Solar Aquatics Wastewater Treatment Facility may not be the technological solution for our communities. We have different climates, available space and production demands. The philosophy I’m attempting to portray is that this facility in Bear River, reinvents the use of a commonly accepted public eyesore as a solution meeting community needs united with community values.

If designed correctly these facilities could be places where our communities showcase our community beauty, spirit and love for nature. I’m not trying to say that this technology is the absolute solution to our problem, but that a positive outcome to this dilemma is obtainable.


Roderick Chisholm

Chelsea, Quebec