Montreal's sewage dump plan on hold for at least another week

The City of Montreal will not be able to move ahead with its plan to dump eight billion litres of untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River — at least not for another week.

New order from Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq forbids city from dumping sewage until Nov. 9

The City of Montreal will now have to wait until at least Nov. 9 before it can dump untreated wastewater into the St.Lawrence River. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

The City of Montreal will not be able to move ahead with its plan to dump eight billion litres of wastewater into the St. Lawrence River — at least not for another week.

The outgoing federal environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, has signed a new ministerial order, thereby forbidding the city the right to dump the sewage until Nov. 9.

Aglukkaq issued a first ministerial order just before last month's federal election. It expires tonight at 11:59 p.m.

"We have told her that we were certainly not in agreement to extend it another week," said Pierre Desrochers, who chairs Montreal's executive committee. "Now what we are asking her is to give the go-ahead."

"We need the go-ahead as soon as possible."

The City of Montreal first announced its plans to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River in September.

It said the measure was necessary in order to divert effluent temporarily from a major sewer interceptor as part of the Bonaventure Expressway rebuilding project.

City officials also said time was of the essence. It planned to dump the wastewater at the end of October because that's when there is the least possible impact on the river's ecosystem — the fish spawning period is over, and the cooler water temperature limits the spread of bacteria found in the sewage.

After a public outcry, and just days before the federal election, Ottawa halted the plan, saying it wanted an independent scientific review.

Environment Canada said delaying the dump plan until Nov. 9 gives experts time to analyze the data.

"This decision will allow Environment Canada to thoroughly study the conclusions of the independent scientific review," said ministry spokesman Mark Johnson.

"Government officials remain in communication with representatives of the City of Montreal during the whole process."


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