Sewage history reviewed

Some background is warranted in response to Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom’s Feb. 23 Community Comment (Face Fines Or Get On With Plan).

Prior to 1969, Rossland’s raw sewage was dumped into Trail Creek and carried down to the Columbia River.

To remedy this, an agreement for the construction and operation of the facilities for sewage treatment for Trail, Rossland and Warfield was signed about 1969. It is 42 years old. This is the same agreement that Mayor Granstrom refers to and does not think needs to be reviewed.

At the time, Rossland was in dire straits financially. Trail’s mayor of the day, Buddy Devito, urged Trail council to proceed with the sewer upgrades regardless of the costs. Even I (as a city councillor at the time) went along with him.

To help Rossland, Trail council met with Cominco and an agreement was reached so that the City of Trail would allow its industrial tax base to assist Rossland to complete its portion of the project.

In essence, Trail taxpayers paid 69 per cent of the costs for the interceptor line from Rossland to Trail, saving Rossland several hundred-thousand dollars. Rossland paid 21 per cent and Warfield 10 per cent of the costs. These costs were apportioned arbitrarily at the time.

In 1969, Trail’s population was 12,500 and could afford to assist Rossland with its share of the sewage construction upgrade along with the operating costs. Trail’s population today is 7,500 and the city has been declared a contaminated site due to Cominco’s years of discharge into the air and consequently into the soil. The smelter site itself is beyond meaningful remediation. It should not surprise anyone that Trail property valuations are significantly lower than Rossland’s as Rossland is outside the smelter’s fallout zone.

Finding a formula that respects both communities should be one that takes into account both flow and units using the service. As Rossland continues to build, the region still has to provide sewer infrastructure and availability whether the homes are occupied year-round or not.

So, measuring flow alone does not reflect the service that must be provided.

Mayor Granstrom stated that nothing had changed in the service and therefore does not require a new agreement. Well, much has changed. I hope Rossland’s mayor is not advocating going back to dumping his city’s raw sewage into Trail Creek.

I should like to remind the mayor that lagoons are still used as primary sewage treatment for Fruitvale, Montrose and Castlegar. Now, that’s a minimum level .

The province has requested treatment upgrades to remove additives like phosphates (dish and laundry detergents) before returning the water back to the river.

Yet, the Kootenay Lake fisheries dump in excess of 2,200 tons of phosphates into Kootenay Lake yearly to keep the fish well fed and the sport fishing               viable.

What is the logic in this new requirement when phosphates are so freely dumped into Kootenay River system that flows into the Columbia?

Not only is a new agreement needed, but, let’s try and establish the real needs and problems the proposed study will address.

Norm Gabana