Nova Scotia

Digby clam industry welcomes sewer upgrade

The call for tenders will be issued Thursday for a $3-million sewer upgrade by the town of Digby, giving hope to those who make a living harvesting clams in the Digby area.
The Digby wastewater system will get a $3-million upgrade. (CBC)

The call for tenders will be issued Thursday for a $3-million sewer upgrade by the town of Digby, giving hope to those who make a living harvesting clams in the area.

A 2008 protocol between Canada and the United States on shellfish harvesting for areas near outdated sewage treatment plants leads to automatic closures in the Annapolis Basin every time there are heavy rains.

The existing wastewater system for Digby can be overwhelmed during bad weather, prompting concerns of sewage overflows.

That means the roughly 100 licensed clam diggers who work the shorelines at low tide are often idle, along with harvesting process plants.

"Clam diggers can't work, workers weren't allowed to work, and everybody got an unpaid vacation," said Duncan Casey, general manager for Casey Fisheries.

"I think we're a little bit behind, I think it should've been done three years ago, so we wouldn't have these problems," Casey added.

Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland said the town has been compliant with the federal, American and the provincial standards, but he's looking forward to the upgrade.

Terry Lee Wilkins says he's lost a lot of money as a clam digger in the last few years. (CBC)

"Hopefully, there will be no more closures, should increase the harvesting out of the basin and we're going to have some nice clean blue water," Cleveland said.

Terry Lee Wilkins is one of the licensed diggers who's had a hard time when he hasn't been able to work.

"I'm making a lot less money. I know people who have lost everything that they own because of it. When you can't pay your bills, you lose stuff," Wilkins said.

The hope is that Digby's new sewage treatment system will be operating by September.

"We also need to put the word out there that these clams are very safe to eat, and they're some of the best clams in the world," said Wilkins. "They stand right up there with the Digby scallop."  

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