Raising a stink in Inverness

PORT HOOD: The waste water treatment plant in Inverness has local residents literally turning up their noses as the facility is now producing a scent that everyone knows yet no one appreciates.

“We’re getting some odour complaints regarding the Inverness sewer plant,” said Trudy Gillis, who serves as environmental and facilities compliance manager for the municipality.

She visited council’s regularly monthly meeting on August 1 to offer an overview of the situation. The odor issue, she said, is a result of the community “outgrowing its current infrastructure,” namely the waste water treatment plant.

The plant was constructed in 1973, and most plants of that nature have lifespan of 20 years. It’s now exceeding the design flow of organic loading capacity daily. It needs to be replaced with a larger plant with a higher capacity.

“Municipal staff did meet with the department of the environment on site yesterday [July 31] to review the situation, and they’ve also agreed that the new plant is the only way to move forward,” Gillis said.

She said to date municipal staff has repaired sludge pumps and installed timers on the pumps so they can work automatically. Other work has been done as well, she said, but added replacing the facility is the only long-term answer.

The municipality currently has a request before the federal government under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for funding to replace the Inverness facility and the waste water treatment plant in Whycocomagh. The replacement of those facilities has been earmarked as a high priority to the municipality.

CAO Keith MacDonald said there have been some announcements on ICIP funding, but so far the feds have said nothing about Inverness County’s piece of the pie.

“Is there something we can do politically or through the Department of the Environment to lean on the other funding partners to say, look, these guys need that system?” said councillor Laurie Cranton.

CAO MacDonald said the Department of Environment was involved throughout the process. A petition is also circulating in Inverness to have the community’s facility replaced, and that’s a way to have residents’ voices heard.

Cranton said maybe a letter to the funding partners from the warden might help push the projects forward.

“It’s certainly worth a try,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie, agreeing to write a letter if council passed a recommendation for her to do so.

The recommendation passed, and MacQuarrie said she’d put pen to paper.