‘A huge concern for the town residents’
Alternative route puts effluent pipe in Pictou’s watershed
Northern Pulp’s alternative route for its outfall could be placed over an area of land that supplies water for Pictou, say town officials.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan confirmed Oct. 23 that the mill’s new plans to place an effluent pipe alongside the causeway – running toward Pictou and continuing adjacent to the road to the ferry terminal and out into the Northumberland Strait – runs through the town’s watershed.
“We definitely need to know more about this,” he said. “Any time anything goes through a wellfield and causes a risk, we should be concerned.”
Public Works Superintendent Jim Chisholm said there have been studies done on the watershed over the years, especially in the sand and gravel flows. All indications are that the flow and the surface water in that area run toward Caribou Harbour, he said, which would make it unlikely it would enter the town’s wells used for drinking water.
But he believes the risks should be discussed as they would be for any landowner or company that wanted to do work in a watershed area.
“We have attempted to do a lot to protect the watershed but there are no (municipal) rules and regulations,” Chisholm said. “We do expect the landowners to be responsible in what they want to do.”
There are regulations in the Town of Pictou regarding wells that fall within town boundaries, but because this section of the watershed runs alongside the Trans Canada Highway in rural Pictou County, it falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial and federal governments.
Paper Excellence’s director of corporate communications, Kathy Cloutier, could not comment Oct. 23 on whether or not the alternative route would go through the watershed area.
“We’re still in the very early discovery stage of this. That’s all part of what will be delved into in a far greater way,” she said.
Northern Pulp presented its latest proposed route for the pipe to stakeholders – including the associations representing fishermen from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the Pictou Landing First Nation – on Oct. 22.
“We have attempted to do a lot to protect the watershed but there are no (municipal) rules and regulations … We do expect the landowners to be responsible in what they want to do.” Jim Chisholm, public works superintendent, Pictou
No official notice
Ryan said there are wells outside of town limits which are used as water supply for Pictou and the town is always concerned when there is any kind of building construction or roadwork taking place near any of its wellfields.
He added he expects discussions will take place between the town and the Department of Environment in the future.
“A potential break in a pipe is a huge concern for the town residents and local residents who have their own wells in the area. We have not been informed by anyone at this point and have only heard about it through the grapevine and media.”
The Town of Pictou recently opened its own $5.8 water treatment plant, which includes a state-of-the-art system that will eliminate the town’s ongoing brown water issues, caused by high levels of magnesium and iron, for many years.