LYONS BROOK – Coun. Jim Turple has seen and smelled the thick, whitish matter along the shores in Lyons Brook. It’s hard to miss.
“We had a test done of the stuff and it’s full of E. coli,” said Turple, a councillor with the Municipality of Pictou County for District 6. “We believe it’s sewage washing up.”
The sewage treatment facility, which began operation in 2010, services most of the Town of Pictou and Districts 5 and 6 of the Municipality of Pictou County, which border the town. The treatment plant was cost shared between the Town of Pictou and the county. The town bore about 70 per cent of the costs and the county paid about 30 per cent.
Turple believes that faulty equipment is resulting in an environmental mess.
“The people in Pictou are paying money on their taxes with the belief that they are now connected to the sewage treatment plant and that their harbour is becoming sewage free when in fact it’s just the contrary,” said Turple.
He believes there are approximately 80,000 gallons of raw sewage daily going into the harbour.
“My residents in Lyons Brook are also thinking that finally we’re going to have our lake free of any sewage and stink but in reality we are still getting Pictou’s raw sewage coming through the fishway in the causeway and dispersing into the lake.”
This is not the case, according to the public works departments in Pictou and the county.
“While we’ve had some pump issues and are awaiting redesigned pumps for the sewage system, there hasn’t been raw sewage pumped into the harbour,” said Kevin Crews with the Town of Pictou public works department. “I can’t see that the issue in Lyons Brook is due to this treatment facility.”
Crew said the only chance that raw sewage could enter the harbour was if there were heavy rains coupled with high tides leading to an overflow. Even then, it would be far away from Lyons Brook.
Ebon MacMillan, director of public works for the county, noted challenges with the plant’s pumps in Lyons Brook.
“They’re pieces of mechanical equipment,” said MacMillan. “Like anything, they’ll require maintenance or replacement from time to time.”
He noted that there’s nothing on the county side that would indicate raw sewage going into the harbour.
In September 2010, eligible Lyons Brook residents were connected to the new sewage treatment system and paid a $2,500 capital cost plus yearly maintenance costs.
Turple took his case to Nova Scotia Environment, though they told him the sewage-like materials on the shore of his district is likely turnover from the lake bottom when sewage used to be dumped into the harbour.
Still, he believes the pump problems are much larger than they appear.
“I strongly feel that we must be accountable to Pictou residents and my residents should know where their tax dollars are going,” said Turple. “Millions of our tax dollars have recently been spent to correct this problem which was finalized three years ago but look at where we are today. Does anybody care?”
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