Friday, 27 April 2012

The RM of Shell River Will be Told About New Technology for Waste Disposal. Will it Listen?

Dear Editor,

I'd like to extend a challenge to my local government, the Rural Municipality of Shell River. 

(Please read earlier story here.)

I'd like you to prove to myself and my community that you are living in the 21st century and determined to be the best that you can be. So far, you've been moving quietly ahead with plans to build a major, new, earthen sewage lagoon, using technology that is, at least, decades-old.

An expert in the field of waste treatment and water pollution, Prof. Bill Paton of Brandon University, says such lagoons "Do not perform well in Manitoba's climate.
I have not found any Manitoba lagoons that meet effluent license requirements. Many of them also leak to groundwater!"

And a former potato farmer I have talked to, Al Baron, says he had to abandon his farm near Carberry years ago when expansion of a nearby lagoon contaminated his land, making it unfit to carry on as a producer.

You didn't tell us much about the project when we appeared before one of your Council meetings earlier this month.

Is there not better technology than the kind you are considering, we asked?  Well, not really. Maybe in Europe, was your vague reply.

Well, it turns out, there is a Manitoba company called Blue Diamond Technologies (BDT), which already has a system up and running, treating hog waste at a barn south of Winnipeg! Furthermore, this company believes its technology can apply to sewage, would be more environmentally friendly and even cheaper than the lagoon you are persuing at a possible cost of $2 million!

I've talked to an official of BDT myself. He says they are quite prepared to meet with your Council, to talk about this promising technology. 


I now understand you have agreed to hear from them at your next meeting.

I am encouraged by this. And I sincerely hope you will actually listen carefully to the presentation and treat it as more than just a formality.

While the lagoon may be built less than a mile upwind of our country home (we are not sure, since you won't tell us the results of the soil-tests done there), that is not really the point. I believe you owe our entire community your best efforts in doing this thing right, no matter where it goes.

As you have apparently held at least one in-camera meeting to discuss this, there are many other details that remain unanswered.

Has there been any kind of detailed study on the need for this project? (Rumours that it was needed to serve a new cottage subdivision being planned for Lake of the Prairies, seem to have been just that - rumours.)

While you do say a feasibility study is underway, you won't commit to making it public when it is finished.

Will there be an Environmental Impact Statement?

Will there be a public hearing?

You have not given us clear answers to any of these things.

On the one hand, we are told not to worry, because everything is "preliminary." On the other, you  are dropping hints that you need to proceed quickly because you may lose government infrastructure money, if you do not.

Which is it?

All I ask is that alternatives be considered more carefully than they appear to have been, to date.


Thank you.


Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

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