Wednesday, March 19, 2008

East End environmental embarassment

The City of Timmins is set to take action on the historic East End environmental embarrassment known as the Bob’s Lake lagoon. The city has contracted a local engineering firm to find ways how to resolve the issue of contaminated runoff from the lagoon, finding its way into Porcupine Lake.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has “suggested” that the City of Timmins “address” the issue of the lagoon, which is a storage pond for sewage from several dozen homes near Bob’s Lake.
This follows an MOE study that shows that “phosphorous levels in both the Porcupine Lake and Porcupine River were found to be elevated to levels well above the natural background levels.”
Phosphorous, which is a key nutrient in plant growth, if often caused by sewage and “gray water” that finds its way into lakes and rivers.
It was welcome news for Ward Four city councillor Pat Bamford, who suggested there would be cheering in Pottsville and the Bob’s Lake subdivision.
“People who are living in that area know there is a smell coming from the east end of the lake. Some people are saying it’s the weeds. Others are saying it’s the raw sewage going into the lake,” said Bamford.
Bamford said the city has known about the problem for years and he feels that the best way to solve the problem will be to shut down the lagoon and upgrade the sewage system.
“The most expensive option will be to decommission the lagoon,” said Bamford.
“Quite frankly, to me, it’s the only way to go. We’ve been looking at this problem for decades the issue hasn’t been dealt with,” he added.
“. . .OPEN SEWAGE. . .”
“How can we have an open sewage lagoon in a residential area?”, he asked.
“It’s going to cost millions to fix, but I think we’ve got to bite the bullet and deal with it. Of course the Whitney treatment plant will have to be dealt with as well,” he said.
Bamford said the lagoon is only part of the problem. He said the other issue is the “cross connection” of storm sewers and sanitary sewers in Porcupine, which means there are times when raw sewage is being flushed into Porcupine Lake.
On a positive note, Bamford suggested that despite the cost, the initiative could be regarded as a valuable 100th anniversary project to bring Porcupine Lake back to the pristine condition it was in 100 years ago.
In further discussions, councillor Bill Gvozdanovic discussed whether the city is being ordered to do the work by the Ministry of Environment. Gvozdanovic said he wondered whether it was essential to spend three million dollars in one year, or to spread the spending out over two or three years.
Gvozdanovic questioned the urgency of the project and wondered if the city was being “mandated” to take action by MOE.
City engineer Luc Duval said his department was being proactive by taking steps to resolve the phosphorous issue.
City administrator Joe Torlone said it was in the city’s best interest to cooperate with the environment ministry.
“We’re not being ‘made’ to do this today,” said Torlone. “But if we don’t cooperate, we could be ‘made’ to do this tomorrow.”

No comments: