Sewage smell, cloudy water in 2 rivers concern Oxford residents
Environment Department investigating nasty odour coming from Black River, River Philip
People in the Oxford, N.S., area are concerned about a bad smell and water quality in two local rivers, and the Department of Environment is looking into the matter.
Since about the middle of last week, people in the area have noticed a smell coming from the Black River, which flows through the centre of Oxford and into River Philip.
The water is also an unusual colour, said Stephen Peck, president of the Cumberland Rivers Association.
"It's a very light colour. It almost kind of looks like sewage at some points. The smell is quite pervasive. You can smell it from very far off. It almost at times smells like raw sewage," he said.
Peck said on Friday and Saturday, the smell was noticeable from Highway 104 and throughout the town.
By Monday, the water was less cloudy but the smell was still there, said Maxine Clarke, whose property runs down to the Black River.
"We walked through town by the main river bridge and it was horrible," she said. "It was bad. It smelled like poop."
Clarke's husband, Allister Clarke, said he's noticed a smell from the river in past summers with little rain, but not as strong as this.
"The smell is not a nature kind of smell, it's more a sewer kind of smell," he said. "It hasn't been as noticeable or as pungent in the past."
A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Environment said staff received a call about the cloudy water and did an on-site inspection Saturday.
The water was cloudy that day but "there was no evidence to suggest a spill and no specific source has been identified," spokesperson Rachel Boomer said in an email.
Department staff went back to the river Sunday and the water was clear. Boomer said they will keep investigating.
Peck said he's not sure what the cause could be.
"We do have some reports that in the past there have been some similar incidents that have happened, but never to this degree," he said. His organization is suggesting people do not touch or use the water, or allow their pets to touch it.
"If it's an algae bloom or something else, there's definitely some concerns for citizens and people that live along the river," he said.
Peck added he's concerned for fish health as River Philip is an important river for salmon.
With files from Moira Donovan