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Nova Scotia girl’s dream to see LaHave River clean coming true

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Straight pipes are illegal but it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that the LaHave River started to make national headlines – Jun 30, 2017

Nova Scotia’s picturesque LaHave River is about to get a lot cleaner as the federal government has announced funding to replace illegal straight pipes with septic systems for homes in the Bridgewater area.

For years, hundreds of homes in the area have released raw or partially-treated sewage directly into the river through straight pipes each and every day.

Straight pipes are illegal but it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that the environmental disaster started to make national headlines. That’s when Stella Bowles started looking into high bacteria levels in the river for an elementary school project.

WATCH: N.S. student’s science project prompts vow to clean up ‘environmental disaster’

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N.S. student’s science project prompts vow to clean up ‘environmental disaster’ – Jul 7, 2016

Since then, she has been an outspoken advocate about the need to clean up the river.

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“I think that enforcement should be made that people with straight pipes should get a septic system because it’s not right to put your sewage into a waterway,” said Bowles.

In fact, her passion and hard work to raise awareness about straight pipes in the LaHave River has earned her multiple awards – including one from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

“It’s incredible what a kid can do,” said Bowles.

“I’ve gone to Regina with this. I’ve been to Montreal last week, Toronto, it’s crazy.”

Stella Bowles was named as one of 150 outstanding Canadians from her work on the LaHave River. Natasha Pace/Global News

This week, the federal government announced they were contributing $5 million towards a nearly $16 million project to replace the straight pipes.

“We believe in a better environment. We believe in having clean waterways and having 600 straight pipes into the LaHave River, it’s got to stop. It’s time and I’m really glad to see all three levels of government step up to make it happen,” said Bernadette Jordan, MP for South Shore – St. Margaret’s.

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“I’m really happy, just don’t know how to explain it. I’m just really, really happy and excited that I can actually go swimming in the river someday,” Bowles said.

Stella Bowles received a silver medal in the Canada-wide science fair after she tested bacteria levels in the LaHave River. Natasha Pace/ Global News

Despite the promise to clean up the river, Bowles said her work isn’t done yet.

“I’m going to keep testing the river. I want to see as the years, and every straight pipe’s removed, will it make a difference,” she told Global News.

Bowles said she would ultimately like to see government put a firm stance on straight pipes across Canada.

“This is a great pilot project. Let’s see how it goes, let’s see what happens. If it works, why couldn’t it work in other areas,” Jordan said.

600 homes along the LaHave Rivers have straight pipes that run directly into the river. Natasha Pace/Global News

At only 13, Bowles proves that anyone at any age can have an impact.

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“Age is just a number. If you want to make a difference, make a difference,” said Bowles.

The pipes are expected to start being replaced later this year. It’s expected the LaHave River will be straight pipe free in six years.

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