Beaches? At your risk!

For the past few years, politicians, in an attempt to convince us that the St. Lawrence waters are now clean, announce the opening of beaches on its shore. This is way too premature. Beaches are often closed because of the quality of their waters. You are entirely free to go swimming there but I will pass.

We can all agree that the quality of its waters has improved thanks to the construction of numerous water treatment plants, but the St. Lawrence remains polluted. When opening these beaches politicians forget, once again, to tell us that they sometimes dump raw sewage into the River. In fact during 2017 they did it 62,000 times. Nobody brags about it. That type of information is usually kept under wraps and when they do discuss it, they speak of wastewater, a euphemism for sewage. Why not call it for what it is: shit. In order to confuse the population better to speak about Escherichia coli (E. coli) or fecal coliform. No matter the term used, they dump shit in the river and often upstream from the beaches.

But you can sleep soundly, the politicians are there to protect us; that’s the same group that forgot to tell us that the City of Montreal was dumping eight billion litres of liquid shit in the river. A year later they proudly announced that a public beach was to be opened in the Verdun borough as a legacy to the 375 fth anniversary of Montreal. That was in 2016. They first encountered a major problem at the chosen site (near the Verdun auditorium, in front of Nun’s Island); the current at that spot is way too fast to allow swimming, something all residents of the area are well aware of. So they built a dike to slow the current and in doing so alienated the nature of the river. The action had a consequence. They realized that if they slowed the current, they now had to evaluate the time required to clear the waters after they dumped shit upstream, a regular occurrence. After three years the beach was open. During the first 30 days, swimming was prohibited for 10 days because of the quality of the water.

Another public beach, announced years ago, met with a similar problem. A beach was planned in the Rivière-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles borough. They soon discovered that a rainwater collector, when confronted with heavy rain, often dumped shit on the proposed site. The only solution was to move the collector. The beach has yet to be opened.

I am far from an expert, I am only an observer, but my research shows that shit has been dumped in the river for hundreds of years and the politicians still do it today. The opening of these beaches only serves to con the population in believing that the St. Lawrence waters are clean. What are they thinking?

Around the world, people are worried about the quality of the waters at their beaches. There exists a world organization, known as Blue Flag, that certifies the quality of waters on beaches around the world. If a blue flag floats on the beach, the waters have been certified for swimming.

The Blue Flag program was created in 1985 and is administered in Canada by Environmental Defence and managed worldwide by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). More than 4000 beaches and marinas in 45 countries have met the criteria required to fly the Blue Flag. In Canada 27 beaches have qualified; in Québec, the three beaches in Magog are the only ones that qualified.

Nothing more to say.

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