Friday, 1 February 2008

Ozone to Treat Montreal's Sewage: the Last Step in a Long Anti-Pollution March?

The province of Quebec and Montreal are near agreement, it appears, on a $200 million plan to treat the city’s sewage with ozone, Le Devoir reported this week. The procedure should disinfect the effluent as well as destroy residual medication excreted by the 2 million people in the catchment area. Twenty years ago when the current treatment facility was opened at the eastern tip of the island, the idea was to provide primary and secondary treatment, that is to remove solid waste and part of the rest. But concern has grown about the effects of what on life in the river and on the health of people who drink the water taken from the river farther downstream, even when it is purified conventionally.

The magnitude of the sewage problem was not recognized until the 1970s, and my first introduction into political action here came with the campaign for sewage treatment. Happily, the quality of water in the rivers around Montreal have improved remarkably since the Montreal plant—and others treating waste from off-island communities—was opened. More beaches may actually be opened to swimming soon. But it’s good to hear that the job started so long ago by STOP (the Society to Overcome Pollution) and SVP (la Société de vaincre la pollution) so long ago may finally be properly completed.

PS Just discovered that the National Film Board of Canada still has a charming little documentary about STOP “Persistent and Finagling” (1971.) How many women started raising hell with causes that touched their families!

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