Municipalities without support to protect their salmon rivers

This is what the Fondation Rivières and the Conseil de l’Eau Gaspésie Sud argue in a study that reveals shortcomings in the management of wastewater and the protection of three large salmon rivers in the Gaspésie.

The study made public by the two organizations reveals the presence of phosphorus in the Petite Cascapédia, the Bonaventure and in the Grand Pabos Ouest river.

The two organizations are asking Quebec to offer better financial support and better support to municipalities to avoid this type of pollution.

The estuary of a river seen from above

Petite Cascapedia Estuary (archives)

Photo: DFO

Present in wastewater, phosphorus promotes the proliferation of green algae in the mouths of rivers, which can harm salmon.

Areas where the water was previously crystal clear are now filled with algae. This is the case, among others, in the Bonaventure River.

The study attributes this proliferation to the lack of phosphorus removal at the wastewater treatment plants in the municipalities of Chandler and New Richmond, as well as the lack of performance of the City of Bonaventure’s phosphorus removal process.

Lack of standard

The director general of the Fondation Rivières, André Bélanger, observes that the municipalities of the Gaspé are left to their own devices to deal with the problems of the proliferation of green algae at the mouth of their rivers.

The municipalities have taught us that they do not have a standard to apply. There is no one at the Ministry of the Environment who tells them to apply such a standard, such a limit or such a treatmentexplains André Bélanger.

André Bélanger also notes that such phosphorus standards exist when wastewater is released directly into Chaleur Bay, but do not exist when wastewater is released at the mouths of rivers.

It’s some kind of administrative error that happened a few years agohe explains, noting that it has not yet been corrected.

The counterpart of the absence of standard is the absence of financing to help the municipalities, estimates the study.

Only Bonaventure is equipped with a device to capture phosphorus in its wastewater, at the expense of taxpayers.


For water engineer Érika Ouellet and project manager at the Conseil de l’Eau Gaspésie Sud, the Ministry of the Environment does not monitor enough the presence of phosphorus in the rivers.

Solutions to problems are paralyzed by bureaucratic slowness. There are administrative projects in place to address these points, but the deadlines are still quite long. As we already see the development of algae in our environments, we would like it to be acceleratedexplains Érika Ouellet.

I really don’t want to blame the municipalities, but there are administrative delays and expertise that are necessary. There are also government authorities that disagree on certain points.she explains.

They are caught in a bureaucratic shambles to obtain funding and find support. »

A quote from André Bélanger, Executive Director of the Rivières Foundation

The study also points out that the municipality of Caplan and the Newport sector of the City of Chandler still discharge their wastewater without treatment into the Baie des Chaleurs, for lack of the support available to rapidly develop their treatment plants.

Delays are also accumulating in these two cases.

The treatment plants of these two municipalities should have been operational in 2021.

With the collaboration of Élise Thivierge

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