Harbour authority losing patience with Lunenburg’s water woes

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN, PHOTO</p><p>Dave Trudel of CBCL Engineering answers a question during a November 28 public meeting in Lunenburg.</p>

The Lunenburg Harbour Authority is losing patience with officials who're still trying to fix ongoing water and sewer issues, which the authority says has created problems for local fishermen trying to make a living.

Donna Knickle, speaking on behalf of the non-profit that looks after a couple of the wharves, said there needs to be expedited work to pinpoint the complications surrounding what's coming out of the outflow pipe at the inshore fishermen's wharf.

"They need it gone so they can do their work and do their work in a safe and clean environment," she said during the question-and-answer portion of a November 27 meeting at the Lunenburg fire station centred on the harbour health programs and the town's wastewater treatment plant.

Knickle called for more than just timelines on forthcoming reports and regular testing of the water. People are either getting covered in sludge or are feel the effects of the problem.

"I had a bunch of kids go down there for a birthday party to get on a boat and they were all bawling because their eyes were burning," she said.

Mayor Rachel Bailey said what the town is dealing with is complex and she awaits the expert reports and consultations with those who know the science. Ottawa and the province have expressed an interest in helping solve the issues, she added.

"If we knew what to do, we'd get it done," Bailey replied to Knickle.

"It's premature tonight to suggest to you that we have a way forward."

The Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation (BCAF), a local environmental stewardship charity, gave an overview of harbour water quality testing completed this summer. Shanna Fredericks, an assistant director with the organization, said preliminary conclusions point out the northwestern corner of the harbour found the highest levels of water and sediment contamination.

BCAF also discouraged wading into the water at the boat launch site and instead recommended using the floating dock to minimize contact with the water. While the eastern side of the harbour is "much safer for recreation," Fredericks said water recreation should be avoided or restricted altogether after significant rainfall and storm events due to bacterial conditions.

Meanwhile, Dave Trudel of CBCL Engineering, the firm tasked with a technical study of the town's wastewater system, said the company is producing a document containing options, pricing and infrastructure requirement recommendations.

The BCAF and CBCL documents are expected to be public in the New Year.

Lunenburg's reached out to the Centre for Water Resource Studies at Dalhousie University for their expertise. The associate vice president of research, Graham Gagnon, said they've "expressed a willingness to participate in whatever the next steps may be," but will wait to see what the other reports to the town conclude.

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