This letter to the Editor stems from your article that appeared on 15 April, 2020. The article was well written and researched, that came across very clearly. It was also balanced in its description of the issue. However, what unfortunately didn’t come across was the magnitude of this issue for the residents of Sand Bay, as well as the inability demonstrated by the Municipal Council to handle the issue in an effective democratic manner.
I am a resident of Sand Bay, as such I have been observing how the Clarendon Municipality has been handling the case of the beach front environmental issue. I can not remain silent on this issue as the consequences are too severe and impacting all the residents of Sand Bay
It is a well-known fact that the Clarendon Municipality approved last fall the installation of a septic system that flows into the bay water causing a rapid growing algae bloom, and this even at cold winter temperatures, which is extremely odd and environmentally worrisome. I shudder at the thought of what will happen when the weather gets warmer. The inaction of the Clarendon Municipality to address this serious issue will have drastic effects for years to come. The algae will continue to grow and this at an accelerated pace, ruining a beautiful healthy beach enjoyed by the residents and many people from across the Pontiac.
The implications are much more serious than at first glance. The first obvious risk and implication is one of health and safety related to the dumping of Bionest septic system water waste into the aquatic play and leisure area of hundreds of children and adults, which is the beach waterfront. We can not wait for health issues to arise. Municipal Council, as well as all levels of government, have been made aware of the problem and the risks involved. Nonetheless, they remain unwilling to address the issue. People like myself must take action to prevent this from happening.
The algae spread, as well as green slime that will eventually flow to the top of the water will turn an environmentally healthy beach into an environmental cesspool that will ultimately be unusable without risk to health. This will have a direct negative impact on the economic engine of Sand Bay, which is tourism mostly through cottage rentals. In addition, the property value of cottages and houses will decrease significantly as no new buyers would be interested in purchasing in a location where the water beach front has become tainted and unsafe. This will cause financial hardship to all residents of Sand Bay.
Last October, Clarendon Municipality Director General Patricia Hobbs said that all necessary permits had been obtained by the homeowner for the septic system. This may be true, but we can not deny that there is a problem and that something is clearly wrong. Sand Bay is a closed bay with next to no water flow, and therefore highly sensitive to small environmental or chemical changes. The overflow waste from the septic system is not being carried away due to a very low water flow in the bay. This is slowly polluting the beach front and putting residents at risk. Its not too late to do the right thing.
Your article did a good job in describing the Bionest septic system. It omitted to mention that there exist alternatives to this system that don’t create the environmental and health issues that this system does.
The media is a powerful tool, and yet your article fell short of calling out the Municipal Council for inaction. It remained neutral to the point that the issue may have been considered less serious than it really is. Yet, many residents like myself are very concerned about this situation.
I believe it is incumbent on the Municipality to protect my family and my interests in Sand Bay. I have no doubt that the courts would compel the Clarendon Municipality to ensure the safety of its residents. This is a fundamental right that we all have as residents. Nor will the courts favour one resident over the safety of all other residents.
I wanted to write this letter to clarify the true risks associated with this issue, and what really is at stake here. I also thought that a powerful medium such written news should have reflected the issue in a way that left the readers better understanding the risks and hardships that had been created by the Municipal decisions taken. In short, it has become very clear to all residence that the septic system in place, though described in specs, is falling short under the conditions that exist in Sand Bay.
Finally, I will be lending my support to the Sand Bay Volunteer Committee in the fight that lies ahead. I will be striving for a resolution and that the Clarendon Municipality revisit the approval decision, conduct the necessary flow tests and take the necessary steps to return the beach to its original healthy state for the benefit of all residents, not just one.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter. As a Senior Executive in the public service, I understand these letters are much too often not given a second thought. However, in this case Id like you to consider a subsequent article that would highlight the risks for the residents associated with the septic system, as well as the possible shortcomings of the approval process by the Municipality.
Carl Trottier, Sand Bay Resident
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