One city councillor says installing sewers for 50 homes on Ramsey Lake should be at the top of Greater Sudbury's to-do list — and that spending a couple of million tax dollars is worth the long-term protection of the city's drinking water.
Frances Caldarelli said septic systems homes on the south shore of the Sudbury water body are contributing to potentially toxic blue green algae in the lake.
New sewage bylaw
City staff members are worried about what happens after the 20,000 Sudburians on septic systems flush their toilets.
A new bylaw will soon require that waste to be taken to the city's treatment plant, instead of sewage lagoons.
City water and sewer manager Nick Benkovich said proper treatment will ensure none of the waste contaminates local lakes and rivers. But he said that doesn't mean the environment is in danger now.
"I don't have any reason to say that it is," Benkovich said. "But it's certainly a more acceptable environmental solution to move to secondary treatment."
The city will start charging a fee to companies who pump out private septic systems and bring the waste to the municipal sewage treatment plant.
Benkovich said the companies will likely pass that cost on to residents.
"While it really affects those 50 people, it's affecting everyone who takes water out of that lake ... in the long-term", Caldarelli said.
In addition to being a city drinking water source, Ramsey Lake is a popular swimming destination for those who go to Bell Park. It also fronts the city’s science centre and his home to sailing and canoe clubs.
High price tag
Caldarelli said she would like to see the costs of putting in the sewers split between the city and the residents who live there.
Staff estimated installing sewers would take $2.5 million out of city coffers and leave each home owner to pay $50,000.
Lakefront resident Herv Sauvé said he wants the sewers, but isn't sure about the price tag.
"Well, I would prefer less because [the sewer is only installed] at the road for $50,000," Sauvé said. "But we have to get [the sewer line] to our house and [that’s] another substantial amount of money."
Caldarelli said she hopes to keep the costs for residents as low as possible. But first she has to convince the rest of city council that this is a priority for all of Greater Sudbury, and not just 50 people in the south end.