Monday, 23 April 2012

Will the Rural Municipality of Shell River Brush Aside Better Technology in Favour of Another Sewage Lagoon?

by Larry Powell 

Is Council Withholding Crucial Information?

Shell River surrounds the Village of Roblin, in west-central Manitoba. It's where my wife and I live, on a peaceful, rural acreage.

In mid-March, the RM quietly sent in a drill truck to test the soil less than a mile upwind of half-a-dozen rural acreages, including our own, with a view to building a new sewage lagoon. (Read earlier story, with photos, here.)

Test results, we were told, would be known in a couple of weeks.

So, on April 13th, almost a month later, my wife and I appeared before Council.

Well, no, we were told, we couldn't have the test results yet because, according to Deputy Reeve Joe Senderewich, who chaired the meeting, "They were not yet official!"

We weren't sure if that meant they didn't know, or weren't telling us!

Now, after another 10 days and at least one "in-camera" meeting, we understand via the grapevine, that Council may make those results public this Friday, the 27th!

So Council seems to be proceeding quietly with plans for a project which may cost $2 million dollars and have profound effects on us, on others, the groundwater and the environment, without really "coming clean" about what's going on!

Does Council Actually Want to Know if There is a Better Way?

We also asked, is there not better technology available than the old-style, earthen lagoons which, I understand, have been around for a hundred years.

I then told them the story of a potato farmer at Carberry, Al Baron, who had to abandon his farm years ago after local authorities expanded a sewage lagoon, contaminating his land and making it unfit for growing potatoes.

I also know an expert in groundwater contamination, Prof. Bill Paton at Brandon University. He told me, "Manitoba sewage lagoons as designed and loaded do not perform well in our climate. I have not found any Manitoba lagoons that meet effluent license requirements. Many of them also leak to groundwater." (I didn't tell them this part, but should have!)

Anyway, Council told us, there really isn't better technology available here...maybe in Europe.

Not long after that, we learned there is, indeed, a Manitoba company called Blue Diamond Technlogies which has a system already up and running, treating hog waste on a Hutterite colony south of Winnipeg! An official of that company, Devron Kobluk, (originally from Inglis) tells me he believes that technology can apply to the treatement of sewage here and that it would not only be cleaner, but cheaper as well!

Mr. Kobluk tells me his company is quite prepared to meet with the RM of Shell River, to brief them on this. Question is, will they listen?

The most regrettable part of all of this is - we were told this Council knew about Mr. Kobluk and his technology some time ago, and seems to have ignored them!

Why?

Will this Council now agree to hear from Mr. Kobluk's company?

I intend to find out! 

FOOTNOTE: The point is not whether this project proceeds on the site close to me, or somewhere else. I don't think it needs to go anywhere, at least until two things are considered, first...is it really needed and, if so, is other, better technology available. l.p.

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