MOE still wants Florence sewage plan

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Heather Wright/The Independent

The Ministry of the Environment says there is still a major problem with sewage systems in Florence which needs to be fixed.

Last year, after more than a decade of trying to come up with a fix for sewage from Florence homes seeping into the Sydenham River, Dawn-Euphemia council notified the MOE it would only pursue a communal sewage bed to solve the problem if the province provided 100 per cent funding for it.

By then, council had spent over 30 years dealing with the problem and had come up with a solution which would cost over $1 million – far more than the 67 homeowners could afford.

The council also questioned if the pollution was still occurring since the first testing was done 30 years ago. So, Mary Jane Corda, district supervisor of the MOE, says they went back to the hamlet in November and retested two of the drains which were running.

“The recent sampling has confirmed that the water quality in the drains is significantly degraded. The analytical results are consistent with those observed during the 2010 sampling survey. Both sampling surveys confirm that there is a significant load of untreated sanitary sewage in the storm water system,” she wrote to council.

Reports from the ministry’s surface water specialist at the ministry says E. Coli, phosphorus and ammonia were still major problems for runoff into the Sydenham River. It noted some samples had 1,000 times the allowable limit of E. Coli and Phosphorus was 100 times higher than the ministry guidelines.

“The discharge of sanitary sewage without proper treatment is a well-known threat to human health and to beneficial uses of receiving waters,” wrote Corda.
“The ministry is therefore seeking an update from you on a path forward to address the contamination.”

Clerk Donna Clermont told council she outlined in the last letter to the MOE that the municipality will deal with each complaint of a damaged septic system as it came about. If there was a problem, she said, the township would deal with it under the building code, having each individual owner take responsibilty for the maintenance of their own septic system.

Council agrees to send a reply to the ministry, stating their plans to hold homeowners accountable. But, it seems the ministry may not be ready to let the issue lie.

“I will be reaching out to you over the next few weeks to set up a time to discuss the current conditions in the drain and your proposed next steps,” added Corda.