THE NEWS/files                                Engagement assistants for Watershed Watch take water samples from the Katzie Slough in Pitt Meadows.

THE NEWS/files Engagement assistants for Watershed Watch take water samples from the Katzie Slough in Pitt Meadows.

LETTER: Transparency needed on sewage overflows

Pitt Meadows: take step to protect community and show committment to clean and safe water.

Editor, The News:

I want to know that my family, friends and loved ones are safe on the water. Untreated sewage, laden with pathogens and bacteria, put our health at risk.

As the City of Pitt Meadows works towards improving the water quality and community profile of Katzie Slough, we deserve to know, in real time, whether we’re paddling, swimming or otherwise recreating in polluted water

I urge Pitt Meadows to work with city engineers to notify residents when untreated sewage is discharged into the Katzie Slough, Fraser River or any of our other waterways.

Concerned about a lack of transparency on sewage overflows, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper filed a complaint under the Ontario environmental bill of rights. This resulted in Environment Canada ordering the City of Toronto to notify the public when sewage had overflowed into Lake Ontario in 2015.

In May this year, the City of Kingston and Utilities Kingston launched the first real-time sewage overflow tracking system in Canada. In the event of a sewage bypass, the proposed Ontario Sewage Bypass Reporting Act, 2017 will require the operators to notify the public within 24 hours.

Ottawa Riverkeeper launched the Our River, Our Playground campaign last month — and already thousands of citizens have voiced their concerns to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.

Transparency on sewage overflows is also an important issue for our southern neighbours. In 2012, New York approved the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law. This law requires the public to be notified within four hours of a sewage discharge into state waters.

Again, I urge you to take this important step towards protecting your community and showing us that you are committed to clean and safe water for all. Let’s work collaboratively to create a wonderful community.

Jackie Campbell

Pitt Meadows