The Montreal Sewage Dump (Described in the Least Disgusting Way)

Montreal has appeared in the international headlines this past week, but not exactly for the best reasons. The city has come under fire for its decision to dump a total of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, as of Wednesday, November 11th. While the details of this dump are quite disgusting (particularly what exactly is being put into the river), it is important to know the greater significance it has on our society, and on our environment.

The main reason why this dramatic and quite disturbing measure is being taken is due to the infrastructure repairs around the city, in particular, the construction work being done on the Bonaventure expressway. Mayor Denis Coderre has addressed various unhappy parties from Montreal and beyond, only to reaffirm that the dump is absolutely necessary: CNN reported that at a news conference on Tuesday, he stated, “If we had other options, we would have taken them, but we had no other option.” To further emphasize how necessary the dump is in order to fix the larger problems at hand, Mayor Coderre did what no person would ever want to do on their own free will: he went into the depths of the underground sewage system in full protective gear to examine the horrible states of the infrastructure and the sewage. Coderre’s visit to the sewers actually roused a few laughs in the midst of this upsetting turn of events, as seen with the meme developed below.


However, there is more than Coderre’s resemblance to the minions that is catching the attention of the international presses. Reports from The Guardian and the BBC in the United Kingdom have incited angry responses from readers across the pond, with CBC highlighting some of the commenters' disappointment in the entire country: “I expected better from the Canadians.” Closer to home, in the United States, New York senator Chuck Schumer has criticized the dump, and has asked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to intervene; since the St. Lawrence river is so closely connected to American waters, he believes they should be “treated like a single ecosystem”.  Environmental action groups are also adding their input, including the conservation group Save The River, who has been making active efforts in finding solutions to what they call “#flushgate” that will not harm the river.

As citizens living relatively close to the site of the dump, we wonder whether or not there will ever be a rapid resolution to this nastiness. When can we start to feel better about the treatment of our water sources? How long do we have to live in this mess? According to Mayor Coderre, one of the principal goals of this controversial maneuver is to replace the rusted pipes and aging infrastructure that the city currently has with five new wastewater retention basins. Additionally, the city hopes to install an ozonation system that will better clean the water by the year 2018. While these are promising long-term solutions to major infrastructural problems, and are definitely necessary in order to prevent potentially devastating damage to the city, it has come at a detrimental cost. The citizens of Montreal, particularly those in the closest reach of the St. Lawrence River, will have to deal with the consequences of the sewage dump for the time being, or for whatever amount of time it will take to release the eight billion litres. In witnessing and unwillingly participating in this dump, there are bigger thoughts we citizens start to consider: it seems that the enivironment of the world has to suffer in order for the material structures of one city to subsist. What we need to keep in mind is that the destruction of the environment and the infrastructure are both extremely dangerous- it’s just that one is bound to collapse sooner than the other.

The sewage dump is supposed to end within the week, but until then Mayor Coderre has advised that citizens avoid flushing away diapers, feminine hygiene products or medication.


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