The province and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg signed a memorandum of understanding today, July 7, to address the discharge of raw sewage into the LaHave River.
Under the terms of the agreement, the province and the municipality will partner on a graduated compliance program. It includes increasing awareness about environmental damage from straight pipes, developing a replacement program, and identifying properties with straight pipes.
Straight pipes are illegal under the Environment Act, as they present human health risks and environmental damage.
“We have heard from our children, our citizens, and our community that we need to protect our beautiful river,” said Mayor Don Downe. “The Department of Environment is going to help us do that by providing expertise and education about the harms caused by straight pipes and addressing issues of non-compliance.”
To support the program, the municipality will seek federal money under the New Building Canada Fund to identify properties with straight pipes that release raw sewage into the river. If funding is received, the municipality will manage a program to replace straight pipes with approved septic systems for eligible properties. Residents will repay costs not covered by grants over a seven-year period.
It is estimated that there are about 600 homes on the river within the wastewater district releasing raw or partially-treated sewage through straight pipes.
“The Department of Environment is pleased to be a partner in this agreement and to add our support and expertise in returning the LaHave River to what it once was: a healthy ecosystem,” said Environment Minister Margaret Miller.
If the municipality receives funding, the design and launch of the program will be completed by March 31, 2017. The department’s enforcement role will begin by March 31, 2020.
Under the Nova Scotia Environment Act, individual property owners are responsible for ensuring they have adequate on-site systems to treat sewage and that they are properly maintained.
Members of the public who have concerns that an on-site septic system may be malfunctioning can contact the department by calling 1-877-936-8476.
To learn more about the agreement, visit www.modl.ca/latest-news/1273-lahave-river-press-release.