Nova Scotia

Inverness moving ahead with sewage treatment plant study

County council in Inverness, N.S., held an emergency meeting this week and decided to press ahead with a study for a proposed new sewage treatment plant, with or without provincial funding.

Council seeking provincial help for estimated $100K study, but prepared to go it alone if necessary

The wastewater pipe for the community of Inverness seems to be leaking black sludge into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to members of the Inverness Development Association. (Submitted by Rose Mary MacDonald)

The county council in Inverness, N.S., held an emergency meeting this week and decided to press ahead with a study for a proposed new sewage treatment plant.

The municipality is asking the province for funding towards a predesign and assessment study that could cost $100,000.

Coun. Jim Mustard, who represents the community on county council, said the study will be done with or without provincial help.

"There is technically some money in the budget for replacing the whole facility, which some of it would have been design and assessment, but if we have to go into reserves right away, we can do that, too," said Mustard.

"The municipal staff are looking at getting some support from the province for the design and assessment, but even if that doesn't happen, we'll move forward with it from our budget."

He said the study is necessary to help advance an application for federal and provincial money towards what could be a $6-million sewage treatment plant.

Persistent odour, bacteria

The community has been hit hard by a persistent smell and bacteria counts that have closed part of the nearby beach.

Mustard said that is at least partly due to the aging and overcapacity sewage treatment system.

Rose Mary MacDonald, president of the Inverness Development Association, said the wastewater pipe that extends out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence seems to be leaking black sludge, which may be contributing to the bacteria that have shut down part of the beach.

More than 200 people rallied last week at the Inverness Miners' Museum  — next to the sewage treatment plant  — to demand action from the county.

In response, officials said the municipality needs more than $100 million in infrastructure upgrades, but the sewage system is the most pressing right now, said Mustard.

In the short term, the county is working on possible solutions to the odour and bacteria in the wastewater.

Coun. Jim Mustard says Inverness's infrastructure is aging and it's time to work on priorities. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Staff have said the system is overcapacity, but also indicated that some kind of effluent is coming into the sewage system and it has killed off aeration in the sewage lagoon, Mustard said.

"We're trying to trace where that's coming from so we can try and alleviate whoever is putting that into the system  — maybe unknowing  — that's affecting everything," he said.

At the same time, waterlines are breaking and causing costly repairs, said Mustard.

Residential and commercial growth in Inverness has exploded over the last five years, mostly thanks to the development of the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses.

"It's just the time it seems that everything's piled up in front of us, that we have to make some priorities happen," Mustard said.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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