Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Rural Municipality of Shell River, Manitoba, Scraps Plans for a New Sewage Lagoon at a Controversial Location

But the RM's plan to press ahead with a lagoon somewhere else, does not bode well for those who would like to shed such antiquated technology in favour of something better. 
- by Larry Powell
According to an informed source, four members of the 6-member RM Council met in special session this week and voted to scrap the site originally proposed, north of Highway Five and a few kilometres east of Lake of the Prairies. It would have been just over 1K upwind from my country residence, on land owned by the Reeve, Albert Nabe. The source, who asked not to be publicly identified, says only four of the six councillors were present at the meeting. (The other two, Reeve Nabe and Councillor Jack Lenderbeck, have not been voting because of a conflict-of-interest in the issue....Reeve Nabe because he owns the land and Councillor Lenderbeck because he rents land from the Reeve.) 

The vote to abandon the original site means the hunt is now on for another which does not need a $1.5 million liner to prevent leakage. (I reported earlier that the drill truck had struck water on at least one occasion at the original site. I have now learned that this actually happened more than once.) 

Despite this rather damning evidence that a lagoon at that location would have been a mistake, two councillors are still said to have voted to proceed to build there!

In any event, my local government has now given up completely on the possibility of considering  technology other than a hole in the ground in which to treat human waste. It will not be persuing a proposal by Blue Diamond Technologies, a Manitoba company which had asked council to consider its chemical treatment system, instead. The RM seems to have rejected the company's contention that it could do the job cheaper and better.

My application to require the RM to make the original soil test results available to the public, something it has refused to do from the outset , has now gone to the provincial Ombudsman. Despite this latest development, I intend to see this process through, because the public ought to know all the details. Secrecy and lack of accountability by this government are way too pervasive.

To me, this was never about the "NIMBY Syndrome" (not in my backyard), only. While nothing focuses the mind quite like the spectre of sewage odours wafting over one's own property, I can't understand why our politicians seem so stuck in the past they'd rather cling to the decades-old technology of lagoons, which often leak, contaminate groundwater or fail to meet pollution regulations. 

Sadly, this project will be going ahead in someone else's backyard, somewhere else in this jurisdiction. And that's too bad.

Larry Powell, concerned citizen, resident and ratepayer/RM of Shell River and publisher of "Paths Less Traveled."

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