Protecting Gatineau involves digging deeper into report on Farrellton site

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by admin on March 16, 2011

The Editor,

I was pleased to read your editorial, “We can’t afford to pollute” (Low Down, March 9 edition), about the MRC proposal to build a septic waste treatment plant on the Gatineau River. I’d like to comment on a few points to help your readers understand the issue further.

First, you suggest that “screams of NIMBY” is not an effective way of dealing with the municipal politicians. Be clear that, in this case, “the back yard” is the Gatineau River, flowing from Farrellton all the way through Chelsea down to Gatineau. The approximately 250 citizens who joined the Rally for Your River at the Black Sheep on March 12 came from all parts of La Peche, as well as from Chelsea, Cantley and Val-des-Monts.  They know the “back yard” is not just Farrellton.

Second, I agree that there are poop problems to be solved, but that does not mean that the solution currently proposed is the best, or even acceptable. Your readers should understand that the sites in Farrellton were identified because of their proximity to the demographic centre of the MRC, as calculated by CIMA +.

However, we now know that the septic waste from Pontiac will not be going to the MRC plant, meaning that the proposals are now based on invalid data. The proposal to build a regional septic waste treatment plant in Farrellton is not based on a good analysis of how much poop there is to be treated or where it is coming from.

Finally, you conclude by focusing on tourism and note that “the Gatineau River is one of its most important draws.” I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, CIMA + does not see it the same way. Included in the criteria to select potential sites for the plant is “the site must be situated at least 500 metres from recreo-tourist sites.” On page 4 of the report, CIMA + describes how the criteria has been used. Imagine how incredible it is to read Section 3.1.8, entitled Recreation and Tourist Areas, and not see the words “Gatineau River”!

Yes, we have to find a solution for the challenge of treating our septic waste, but does that mean we have to build a plant that discharges waste water into our precious Gatineau River?  No! You are absolutely right to conclude that we need to “spend a little more time and money to get the best, cleanest possible system [that] is good for the environment, the community and the bottom line.”

Readers should go to www.savethegatineau.com to read the CIMA + report and to find out how they can help to ensure that the best decision is made.

John Pinkerton

La Peche, Quebec