‘Prove it’

Dear Editor:

Re: Erin wastewater treatment plant will cost town up to $32 million, March 25.

Despite continuing to throw numbers and ranges of numbers around like it was no big deal, and councillor Robins continuing to question the town’s ability to handle this future debt load, it’s no wonder a certain percentage of Erin town folk don’t believe anything the town says. And why should they? Erin was, after all, the 2020 recipient of the Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the category of municipal government.

Ever since day one, I’ve never felt the least bit secure in the notion that our municipality has always been forthcoming on the issue of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The main reason is their lack of transparency and ability to properly communicate this “hot topic” within the community.

I’ve heard the party line that this “wastewater technology” is the best and that according to Gary Thorne (technical lead at WSP) “this water quality is not far from drinkable quality”. What exactly does that mean? Wouldn’t it be helpful to provide a full spectrum chemical analyses of the effluent from a similar (i.e., properly working) system in Ontario to be presented for comparison?

I’m not getting the assurance that simple boiling and filtering would render Erin’s WWTP effluent drinkable. And I’m having difficulties believing CVC is on board with 7+ million (warm) litres/day being pumped into a small, delicate river, that happens to be the spawning ground for an environmentally sensitive species of brook trout…. But I could be wrong.

So prove it, Mr. Thorne. How about some guarantees? I mean shouldn’t a $126-million dollar facility come with an ironclad guarantee? After all, the world is littered with environmental disasters that had similar, vague promises and sign-offs from government agencies, but lacked the ironclad guarantees and resources to fix the system and clean up the resulting pollution.

I’ve an idea that is so crazy it just might work…. How about pumping the 7+ million litres/day into a proximal, spent gravel pit, where this “not far from drinkable water” can settle, and eventually percolate subterraneously, cool down and be further “filtered” naturally before it joins the multitudes of cold-water-springs that feed the West Credit River and sustain its vulnerable inhabitants.

Barring that idea, I’ve also come up with another idea that is less half-baked. Setting up an environmental restitution account to be held in escrow (in perpetuity), in the event the Erin WWTP does not perform to WSP’s claims and that this fund could finance remedial measures to fix the WWTP and restore the West Credit River to its original condition.

Either way, the one thing that is lacking with “the Erin WWTP party line” is the much needed assurances that this is a viable and environmentally responsible alternative to the current septic systems within the Town of Erin.

As my pappy always said, “Son, put your money where you mouth is.” Well, it’s about time the Town of Erin stepped up in this regard.

Brett Davis,