Raw sewage to be dumped in the St. Lawrence River 

St. Lawrence River

Despite criticism from environmentalists, the public, and government groups, the city of Montreal is going forward with a plan to dump eight billion litres of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River.

Last week, the City of Montreal temporarily put the brakes on the project after public outcry. Now, the project is back on.

For one week beginning on October 18, raw sewage from toilets, sinks and showers will flow directly into the St. Lawrence River as part of the relocation of a snow chute. The current snow chute is located underneath the Bonaventure Expressway, which is in the midst of being demolished and transformed into an urban thoroughfare

The wastewater could negatively affect the several aquatic species that call the St. Lawrence River home, as well as pollute the riverbanks and the plant and animal life that live in the nearby area.

In a press conference last week, Pierre Desrochers, the chairman of the city’s executive committee, stated, “we studied all other alternatives, and this is the only option.”

“After re-examining the situation, our administration has concluded that it’s inevitable that we have to close the interceptor, even if it means diverting the wastewater to the river,” Desrochers stated.

While the idea has been approved by the province’s environmental ministry, Environment Canada has yet to green-light the plan. At this point, the federal department may be the last hope.

Daniel Green, the deputy leader of the federal Green Party candidate, says it’s now up to Environment Canada to put a stop to the plan. “According to the Fisheries Act, it is illegal to dump polluted substances in natural fish habitats,” Green said in a statement. “This means Minister Leona Aglukkaq has the power to act. She must show political will and act to prevent the city of Montreal from moving forward with its plan.”

Green also stated that there are safer, more environmentally friendly options available, such as building temporary retention basins.

Desrochers, however, says that these alternative plans would come at a price tag of $1 billion.

Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre says that the plan will not affect the quality of drinking water and remains the best option for the city.