2017-08-16

Straight talk on straight pipes

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Residents with properties on the LaHave River at the open house MODL held August 8 concerning its straight pipes replacement program.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>MODL council members and staff were on hand at the MARC on August 8 for an information open house on the municipality&#8217;s straight pipes replacement program.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Map of the area to be covered by MODL&#8217;s new LaHave River Wastewater Management District bylaw.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Youth environmental activist Stella Bowles in front of the sign her family erected on the shore of their LaHave River property.</p>

About 50 homeowners showed up at an information open house wanting to learn more about straight pipe replacement program - particularly what it might cost them.

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) hosted the open house at the MARC on August 8th.

Ross Hartman came with his son-in-law Victor Nickerson. Both own homes in Middle LaHave, however, neither currently have straight pipes, having since replaced their systems.

Hartman wanted to know what was involved in replacing the system in the home his mother owns, and who now resides in a nursing home.

He told LighthouseNOW the vast majority of people don't want their pipes going into the river, but the issue often boils down to lack of a plan to remedy it, and affordability.

"My mother's on a pension. She only gets $20,000 a year. So that's why [the straight pipe] is still in the river," he explained.

He was pleased to learn he would only have to pay one-third of the cost of a new system, with the province and the federal government picking up the tab for the remaining two thirds.

"It's a win-win situation. I want to get it out of the river to start with, but if they're going to pay two thirds of it that's good."

Sarah Kucharski, MODL's communication officer, described the benefit to homeowners as a "screaming deal."

"You'll pay one third, plus a small administration cost. And that's over seven years."

The municipal loan will be secured by a lien against the home. But homeowners can come in any time to pay it off, or pay their portion themselves up front if they choose.

"You can't beat it," she said.

According to Kucharski, the municipality now has an e-mail list of 65 names of property owners with straight pipes who are interested in participating in the program.

Nickerson said that even though his own system has been replaced, as a new father he wants to see the river cleaned up so children can swim in it.

And he's hoping that in time the sign that the student environmental activist, Stella Bowles, has posted on the shore of her family's LaHave River property can be removed, "so then the tourists might come back."

The sign reads: "600+ HOMES FLUSH THEIR TOILETS DIRECTLY INTO THIS RIVER."

"I agree that she did it, because it got the whole thing rolling. But it will be nice when we'll be able to take it down," said Nickerson.

Brock Jeans, MODL's municipal engineer, was on hand to answer some of the technical questions. He told LighthouseNOW nine people had already put their names down that night indicating they would like to proceed under the program.

However, he noted that the municipality has not yet released an official application form for the program, and wasn't likely to for a couple of months. Council is still in the throes of finalizing its proposed LaHave River Wastewater Management District bylaw.

Second reading of the proposed bylaw will be conducted at a special council meeting on August 22.

As well, the municipality still is looking to hire an installations coordinator for the program.

However, plans are to have five systems completed by the end of the year so that any issues with the program might be ironed out by next summer, when it gets goes into play full force.

Not everyone at the open house was looking to have straight pipes replaced, however.

Jo Stern and Dave Scarratt replaced their straight pipe system on their Bell's Cove property in Dublin Shore about 15 years ago. They simply were curious how the replacement program would work.

"Because it's a problem that has been long-standing, long overdue to be addressed. We were happy to know that it's going forward," said Stern.

Donald Himmelman, who also has approved septic systems on his properties in West LaHave and Pentz, agreed. He was there, "just to snoop."

" It's certainly well overdue, that's for sure. I just hope it will go with good progress. As long as it doesn't lose steam, that's the main thing. Keep her rolling," said Himmelman.

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