Work underway to improve Parlee Beach water quality, but results not guaranteed
Two new projects announced for the fall, but improvements not guaranteed by next summer
The provincial government provided more details Friday on two infrastructure projects that will help clean up water quality issues at some of New Brunswick's beaches.
But Minister of Environment and Local Government Serge Rousselle said there are no guarantees the contaminated water will be clean by next summer.
We are doing all we can, but at the end of the day we will see the results next summer when we do the tests.- Serge Rousselle , Minister of Environment and Local Government
"If you know one person who can guarantee that's such a thing, I want to know that person," said Rousselle.
"We are doing all we can, but at the end of the day we will see the results next summer when we do the tests. There's no guarantee, but we are doing all we can, and that's why we are taking actions."
Projects to address water contamination
Parlee Beach experienced some of the highest levels of contamination of the summer season this year, while Murray Beach saw one of its highest levels ever on record.
- Government departments will meet regularly to address Parlee Beach water quality
- Water monitoring at Parlee Beach failed to meet Canadian guidelines
This fall, Shediac is getting more standby generators on Pleasant Street, Paturel Street and Pussyfoot Lane, and renewal of a lift station on Wayne Street.
At Pointe-du-Chêne, 455 metres of sanitary sewer will be built, along with six sanitary sewer and six manholes on St. John Street, with an upgrade to a current lift station on Jarvis Street.
The total cost of the two projects is $1.68 million and is funded by the Gas Tax Fund and the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
The projects are included in $3 million in investments Rousselle announced in May to address the water contamination at Parlee Beach in the short term, while his department waited for a full report from a government steering committee that's expected in June 2018.
Other initiatives include studies by a steering committee, which is expected to make recommendations on how to handle the water quality for next summer.
The province said the committee's final report should be completed by early 2018, with time to prepare for next summer.
Cap-Pelé resident Natasha Bell had mixed feelings about Friday's announcement.
"It was nice to get a timeline on certain items we've been waiting for," she said.
But the government needs to focus beyond Parlee Beach and Murray Beach, she said.
Hopefully if we can all sit down and talk we can work on widening the scope of study and scope of mitigation.- Natasha Bell, Cap-Pelé resident
"You've got citizens that are petitioning for clean beaches, and it's a coastal, it's a regional problem, it's not just a Shediac region," she said.
"Bit of frustration that's it's still very Parlee-centric, hopefully if we can all sit down and talk we can work on widening the scope of study and scope of mitigation."
$3 million in infrastructure
The $3 million dollars will be funnelled to 19 federal and provincial projects and 8 studies intended to improve the water quality.
Almost $1.6 million will be for projects that include $500,000 to inspect and upgrade an old sewage lift station at Parlee Beach that's connected to a large, underground sewer network.
An additional $75,000 will be devoted to more effective pump-out stations for the Shediac Bay and Pointe-du-Chêne marinas, as an incentive for boaters not to dump their untreated waste into the ocean.
In the summer of 2016, the pump-out station at the Pointe-du-Chêne was only used 46 times, with more than 600 boats passing through.
Another $50,000 has been allocated to create an inventory of all the private septic systems around Parlee Beach, including trailer parks, which the government said is expected to be finished by end of summer.
So far a nutrient infuser has been installed to improve a sewage lagoon at Murray Beach. A backup generator and an ultraviolet purifier is planned in the coming weeks.
Dog waste stations have already been installed by local residents and the installation of buoys to prevent boats getting too close to the swimming area should be completed next year.
Town government frustrated
The Town of Shediac broke its silence this week on many of the issues surrounding water contamination at Parlee Beach.
Mayor Jacques LeBlanc said he wanted to see the province start addressing the water quality issues at the beach this fall to regain public trust and confidence.
We need to work together and keep on making sure the government is held accountable to make sure those investments are done and move forward in this P arlee Beach episode.- Jacques LeBlanc , Mayor of Shediac
Following Friday's announcement, he said he feels reassured about steps being taken over the water quality issues, but said the government still needs to be held accountable.
"We need to work together and keep on making sure the government is held accountable to make sure those investments are done and move forward in this Parlee Beach episode," said LeBlanc.
Last fall, a CBC News investigation revealed water quality issues at New Brunswick's most popular beach. During many days in the summer of 2016, the water was not safe to swim in — but confusion over signage led many tourists to believe it was.
With files from Gabrielle Fahmy and Viola Pruss