High cost to clean up river

The city has a good plan to keep waste out of the Ottawa River, but theprovince’s environmental commissioner warns it will be worthlesswithout the follow through.

The city has a good plan to keep waste out of the Ottawa River, but the province’s environmental commissioner warns it will be worthless without the follow through.

“We could have a dry year next year and situation where there are very few beach closures.

Will we lose our taste for spending the money to solve the problem long-term?” asked Gord Miller. “A clean environment costs money — that’s a simple fact of life.”

Miller said the city could completely eliminate all sanitary sewage spills into the river by 2011, but it would cost nearly $400 million.

According to planning and environment committee chairman Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume, the city was already planning to spend $250 million.

“We’ll have to go to the public and say this is the increase required to eliminate combined sewer overflows from the Ottawa River,” Hume said. “I’m confident they’ll say that’s a good place to spend our money.”

A real-time control system is being installed to minimize the levels of raw sewage dumped directly into the river when the system overflows.

If all the funding falls into place, the city could be finished separating storm sewers and sanitary sewers by 2011.

There is a small area in west Ottawa where separating the sewers would be so disruptive that holding tanks should be installed to catch the overflow, but Miller said there is no commitment or decision to install the tanks.

Those three steps are sufficient to ensure that no untreated sewage ends up in the river, but Miller said city beaches could still be closed frequently because of storm water pollution running into creeks that feed into the river.

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