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One year after the big Montreal spill: efforts to reduce wastewater overflows remain insufficient

One year after Flushgate, this major spill of Montreal's wastewater into the St. Lawrence River, efforts to minimize sewer network overflows creating pollution of our waterways remain clearly insufficient.

Flushgate, a “planned” spill of 8 billion liters of wastewater that appeared normal to government and municipal administrations, drew media attention to the carelessness and laxity in water protection. THE balance sheet that the Foundation drew up on this file shows a mess on all levels! Quebecers then learned that in the last government report of 2013, there were 45,512 wastewater overflows in Quebec, including some 400 spills that lasted more than 48 hours. There are also, still today, around a hundred municipalities which discharge their sewage without treatment.

You should also know that none of the municipalities which did not respect the regulation since January 2014 has not yet been penalized. And that the government has abandoned the inspection of wastewater treatment plants for which it paid for with billions of dollars. He no longer monitors their performance. There will no longer be an annual report, the last one dating from 2013. Furthermore, it has not issued any sanitation certificate, which is contrary to what is provided for in its regulations. Obviously, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC) does not have the resources to adequately fulfill its obligations.

Let us think of the thousands of dead fish discovered on June 28 in the Yamaska River following poor operations in the wastewater treatment plant in the city of Saint-Hyacinthe. An MDDELCC investigation report must be produced and sanctions imposed.

The Fondation Rivières therefore asks the government to re-establish the work teams necessary to fulfill its responsibilities. It should impose the payment of financial compensation with strong incentives to reduce overflows of untreated wastewater. Municipalities must pay for their pollution, not just let it flow to their downstream neighbors.

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