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Town pleads guilty

The Review, mercredi 21 mai 2008

Town pleads guilty

Hawkesbury to pay reduced Ministry of Environment fine


HAWKESBURY - The Town of Hawkesbury plead guilty to charges issued by the Ministry of Environment at a L'Orignal provincial court on May 15.

The town was fined $12,500, significantly less than what it could have been: $25,000 per day for the 17 months that the wastewater treatment plant operated in contravention of its certificate of approval (CofA).

"I'm not happy we were fined, but that's the fact," Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois said. "We were fined and now we're coming out of it at $12,500."

Hawkesbury Chief Administrative Officer Normand Beaulieu said the fine was reduced because the town has been operating in good faith with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and has engaged the Thompson Rosemount Group (TRG) as consultants to find ways to improve its operating practices.

"Council took the steps we had to take," Charlebois said. "As soon as we were charged... we addressed the situation immediately. We did, maybe, what should have been done previously."

Charlebois said it was in the town's best interest to strike a deal with the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and plead guilty.

Paul McCulloch, counsel for the MOE, said between May 2005 and November 2006, with the exception of May 2006, the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant exceeded the monthly average concentration and monthly average loading set by the C o f A .

"Although the town water pollution control plant was operated by OCWA (Ontario Clean Water Agency) on a day-to-day basis," McCulloch said, "the town retained overall responsibility for the operation."

He said that while the town had engaged consultants to achieve compliance, the implementation of proposed solutions was not done in a timely manner and the wastewater treatment plant's operation "was not maximizing available biosolid management practices."

Town acted diligently: mayor

Limited biosolid storage capabilities and discharge from some Hawkesbury industries contributed to the exceedances, McCulloch said.

The town did not enforce its own by-law, created to control the discharge of sewage and industrial waste into the sewage system.

Hawkesbury has since been trucking its solid waste to Ottawa.

Hawkesbury has also increased the number of farmers' fields used for the disposal of biosolids and modified the manner in which the OCWA operates the facility.

"These improvements have been authorized by the town at significant expense," McCulloch said.

Hawkesbury council has recently authorized TRG to proceed with an application for a CofA to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, in order to meet ministry criteria.

"Not only have we addressed the concerns, we've acted on them," Charlebois said.

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