Writer disagrees with DEP assessment of sewage spill at Long Lake

To the editor:

I just got done watching a WAGM report on the water quality of Long Lake and all I can say is: They still never answered the question, “Is the lake safe?”

Nick Archer, who was the spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said sewage spills “are common.” To which I reply: So is cancer, everybody knows someone who has been affected by it, so it is also common, but who wants cancer? Sorry Mr. Archer but common does not mean: good, safe or even OK.

Next Mr. Archer claimed the spill was caused by the weather and Saint Agatha’s inflow and infiltration problem. But this also doesn’t ring true, because this year with a greater snowpack than last year (meaning more runoff water than last year and the proof of that is many people have said that the lake this spring was higher than they had ever seen it). But with a properly trained sewer operator, not one drop of sewage went into the lake. Which proves: This spill was not a result of runoff.

Mr. Archer also said the town followed “protocol.” But in doing some research, the very first thing protocol requires (after reporting the spill) is the determination of whether the affected area is safe to enter. Meaning testing must be done, but we know testing was never done, otherwise Mr. Archer would have been citing test results instead of the commonality of the accident.

Finally Mr. Archer, you said what was pumped into the lake was “mostly rainwater.” Well, while this statement is factually correct it is also very misleading. The real numbers are (this was determined by watching the Frenchville/Saint Agatha sewer discussions on WOWL, Madawaska): Saint Agatha produces between 35,000-40,000 gallons of sewage per day. The St. John Valley Times reported that this spill happened over two days, meaning that of the 196,000 gallons pumped into the lake, 70,000-80,000 gallons of it was raw untreated sewage.

So in conclusion Mr. Archer, forgive me if I do not agree when the DEP tells me (without any testing) that the equivalent of 17 tractor trailer loads of raw sewage dumped into our lake is safe simply because “it’s a big lake.”

Still waiting for answers.

Richard Pelletier Jr.


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