Study of Lake Banook, Lake MicMac finds sewage, human waste leaking into watershed
A report by an outside consultant indicates that sewage may be leaking into Dartmouth’s Lake Banook — one of the municipality’s most popular recreational bodies of water.
Stantec Consulting’s report, which was presented to the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Regional Watersheds Advisory Board on Friday, was commissioned after high levels of e. Coli bacteria were detected in the water of Dartmouth’s Lake Banook and Lake MicMac.
An uptick in beach closures, specifically at Birch Cove Lake Beach, eventually forced Halifax Regional Council’s hand.
Stantec tested multiple locations in both lakes between June and Sept. 2018.
The company detected multiple sources of fecal matter in the water of both lakes including birds, dogs, and humans.
Human waste was detected at an outfall location at Brookdale Crescent near Mic Mac Mall.
“It is anticipated that the detection of human genetic markers is most likely associated with the unintentional discharge of domestic wastewater in areas where markers are detected,” the report reads.
“This is attributed to either leaking pipe networks or unintentional cross-connections between wastewater and stormwater collection.”
James Campbell, a spokesperson for Halifax Water, says the utility will look into the report.
“If there is a situation that Halifax Water has to rectify after reading the report and we identify that there is either a cross-connection on private property within our system we’ll work with the private property owner to make that correction and if there is a problem with our system we’ll correct it,” he said.
The report makes clear that the detection of human fecal matter is the most concerning and that any remediation should prioritize areas where those were detected. Stantec recommends inspecting wastewater in order to pinpoint the source.
The bridge between the two lakes was found to be the prime spot for bird waste. Stantec says the installation of bird-deterrents may help fix that problem.
Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, is unsurprised with the reports about the bridge.
“Being a Dartmouthian who’s paddled underneath that [bridge] I can guarantee you that’s pigeons because that’s where they roost,” Austin said.
“There is also a piece that residents play a role in which is please pick up after your dog.”
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Other recommendations from the report to help improve the quality of the watershed include changing street maintenance and street sweeping programs while continuing a public education program about beach closures and reminding citizens to clean up after their dog.
Stantec also found that the continuous trimming of lake-based weeds is helping to control phosphorus levels in both lakes. The consultants recommend that the vegetation continue to be harvested.
Any decision to improve pollution mitigation must be approved by Halifax Regional Council.
With files from Whitney Middleton-Oickle
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