Shitty water?

Dr. Jim Harding provides important information about Regina’s impact on the water downstream.  It ain’t pretty.

 

 

 

QU’APPELLE VALLEY LAKES CLEANUP TAKES BACK SEAT TO NEW ROUGHRIDER STADIUM

BY Jim Harding

For decades Regina’s poorly treated sewage has degraded eco-system health downstream in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Regina’s refusal to priorize modernizing its wastewater treatment means that people sometimes can’t swim safely, eat the fish or even boat.

The wellbeing of cottagers and those that make the valley their home is being disrespected. And there is no excuse; for years Peter Leavitt and his associates at the University of Regina have shown the major role Regina’s sewage plays in degrading this waterway. Meanwhile, rather than biting the bullet and upgrading the system, Regina politicians prefer to make a multi-million dollar new stadium their highest priority. Out of sight, out of mind!

METAL CONTAMINATION

Metal contamination increases with the growth of agriculture, industry and urbanization. Most of the catchment area for the Qu’Appelle River drainage basin includes industrial exposure – e.g. a steel plant, oil refinery, fertilizer plant and potash mine near Regina. Metal contamination from erosion is increased by agricultural tilling, irrigation and use of chemicals; coal plants and waste incineration send metals into the atmosphere which find their way into freshwater.

Metal pollutants accumulate in lake sediment and eventually enter aquatic food webs. Leavitt’s research suggests that small aquatic invertebrates in the Qu’Appelle system “may have been exposed to damaging levels of toxic metals for 100 years”. This research concludes that “overall, potential toxic metals from urban and industrial sources accumulate significantly within invertebrate diapausing (dormant) eggs, while less toxic metals preferentially accumulate in the sediment matrix”. The more toxic metals include cadmium, chromium and molybdenum.

NITROGEN LOADING

Sediment analysis suggests that 70% of the nitrogen pollution in the Qu’Appelle waterways comes from Regina. (Most of the phosphorous likely comes from agriculture.) This elevated nitrogen influx results in heavy algal blooms which can elevate to toxic levels. This excessive algal growth can deplete oxygen levels in lakes and result in mass die off of fish and other aquatic organisms. Pasqua Lake, the first lake 175 km downstream from Regina, is the most heavily affected. In earlier research it was estimated that this fairly shallow lake contained about 300% more algae than in pre-colonial times; currently it’s estimated to be 500%. Most nitrogen gets sequestered in lake sediment but nutrients are passed downstream when saturation occurs, first to Echo Lake, then to Mission and on to Katepwa. This is chronic as I write!

There are other pollutants from Regina. Environment Canada found personal care products, like aspirin derivatives and some antibiotics downstream.

REGINA’S IRRESPONSIBILITY

The last time Regina made a major upgrade of its wastewater plant was in 1977, to include tertiary treatment, i.e. “clarification” to remove phosphorous. Thirty-five years later this is no longer “state of the art” and the City has fallen behind the treatment standards of other prairie cities. City politicians have had other priorities, like Harbour Landing and a new Roughrider stadium.

I have some personal experience with this matter. When I was on Regina’s City Council in the mid-1990s, meeting at a session on capital budget, I raised planning for upgrading water treatment. I was told in no uncertain terms that with property reassessment coming, suburban taxes would increase and most councilors would lose their seats if we dared include these capital costs. Councilors agreed in word or by silence and the matter was dropped.

I’m not privy to how this was handled during Mayor Fiacco’s term. City officials claim they have budgeted for the wastewater upgrade, yet nothing significant has happened. The City is now looking at selling its poorly treated wastewater to a potash company south of Regina, while another potash company has indicated it wants to remove water directly from the Qu’Appelle lakes. What would all this “pragmatism” do to the flow and water quality of the Qu’Appelle lakes?

So here we are in 2012 with Regina the only major prairie city not to have upgraded its sewage treatment. The cost of doing this has continued to rise and could now be as much as $200 million. In its 2012 budget the City only budgeted $19.6 million for wastewater upgrades.

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

Aquatic eco-system protection simply must be implemented quickly. However Regina’s present Mayor and Council seem to be trying to end-run the electorate by approving much more spending to build a new Roughrider stadium without sufficient public input. Mosaic Stadium has just had a $14 million upgrade to prepare it for the 2013 Grey Cup. Then it’s going to be torn down. The proposed new stadium will have about the same seating capacity as Mosaic Stadium. Its total cost, including loan interest and maintenance over a 30 year period will be $675 million. This amount does not include cost overruns.

The province will contribute an $80 million grant and the Roughriders will only have to pay $25 million mostly from corporate sponsorships. According to Regina City Council’s funding plan, $300 million will come from the pockets of Regina taxpayers, who will be required to pay a 0.45% increase in property taxes each year for 10 years. Forced to foot the bill, how will Regina’s taxpayers view spending the millions needed to stop contaminating the Qu’Appelle Valley waterways?

 

Mayor Fiacco justified announcing the new stadium at a Roughrider game, saying that “users will pay”, suggesting that raising the facility fee for games by $4 will cover the provincial loan. Yet only $100 million of the total $675 million will likely come from this. Sounding a little like Prime Minister Harper, who also sidesteps democratic due process, he says “we were elected to make decisions”, while ignoring that stadium upgrades in 1977 came after a plebiscite. When asked about the fact that general taxes will go up, a City official spoke of “delivering a quality of life in Regina”, drawing an analogy to public transit which, like the stadium, is not used by everyone.

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

What about quality of life downstream from Regina’s effluent? What about municipal responsibility? When you go to the City’s web page there’s mention that an upgrade of sewage treatment will be required by 2016 (province) and 2020 (federal), yet no government grants are forthcoming for this. Why is the province spending $80 million for a Regina stadium and ignoring Regina’s sewage pollution?

The City is not stringently lobbying for such assistance. If anything it leaves the impression that the main problem with sewage treatment is persisting odour. It doesn’t mention its role in polluting the Qu’Appelle Valley lakes; this can reinforce disinformation such as the claim that “the lakes have always had high algae.” Based on a 1999 report it even alleges that “the City is a leader in treating wastewater”. Tell that to the residents and cottagers living along Pasqua or other Qu’Appelle Valley lakes.

The City’s diagram on waste treatment highlights its sediment removal, aerated lagoons, clarification and UV disinfecting and then ends abruptly, showing only an arrow for the discharge of its poorly treated effluent into Wascana Creek. For those living downstream this is where the contamination begins.

How did protecting eco-system health and a major recreational waterway become less important than a new football stadium? Is bread and circuses being allowed to squeeze out the quest for clean water and sustainability? We only can hope that this matter gets raised during Regina’s fall election.

 

 

 

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I’m singing in hell

I’m singing in hell

This is a place where my City Councillor invokes
UN property rights instead of human rights
for the 130 people evicted
from a rundown apartment block
destined for demolition,

where the Mayor, hell-bent on the erection
of Pat’s Palace and a domed stadium
over social housing, believes he’s a big man,

where the Province slowly slits the wrists
of the homeless shelter in North Battleford
eases its way out of funding social programs,

where the country is led by a Stalinist who bullies
women, environmentalists, blames First Nations
communities, the victims of a system of Apartheid
for their own poverty and who decimates the lives
of those who dare to challenge his decrees,

(Think nuclear: Linda Keen. Think military:
Richard Colvin. Think tarsands: Andrew Frank.)

I’m in a place where I know the world wants better
but is blocked
and expected to kiss the ass of the corporate brass
who own our governments,
who know the score,
pay the piper
and call the tune.

But be damned if I’ll sing that song!
Hell no! I’m singing
We shall not be moved,
Solidarity Forever,
Give peace a chance.

And I’m not alone

Hell no! We’re singing together,
back to the future, into the next seven generations
because we will not be moved,
because our solidarity will last forever
because we will give peace a chance
until this hell transforms

and we’re living our dreams of living in
a sustainable global society founded on
respect for nature, universal human rights,
economic justice, and a culture of peace.”1

——
1 From The Earth Charter and recorded by Carolyn McDade & Friends on the CD, My Heart Is Moved

Fiacco Lies on a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & an Inland Port

Veering ever-so slightly off my no nukes agenda to slip in an I told you so.  Mayor Fiacco would not reveal the plans for this before the municipal election and now that he is safely back in office he can reveal his real plan.  Today P’n’P learns of the plan for a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port which is part of the NAFTA Highway, the Security and Prosperity Agreement, the ecological devastation called the Tar Sands, and North American Union.

This gateway involves moving the rails from central Regina to the west side where industrial development is taking place and will likely increase dramatically without our approval.  It will increase land and air traffic which means more air and noise pollution.  It will move us closer to BushCo’s & HarperCo’s dreams of not only continental unity but also a continental currency.  At a time when we need to be doing our utmost to curb green house gas emissions, our City is promoting increased consumption and an increased use of fossil fuels!

Thanks for what amounts to lies, Mayor Pat, and for selling us out to the corporatist extremists. We’ll see you at the polls in less than two years.  And we will remember.

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

The Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port, or “Prairie Gateway” is a virtual combination of services and a cluster of numerous transportation, distribution and assembly players working and investing together. This is the best way to maximize the existing transportation assets across an integrated region, with many transportation, production, storage, trans-loading, assembly, product identification and research resources working as a team. This base will draw additional investment, labour and technology as a catalyst for a host of new ancillary business service companies.

What is an Inland Port?

An Inland Port is defined less on the physical aspects of one location and more on the intelligent logistics and coordination of a multitude of services.  It has the following qualities:

  1. Is an organization or coalition made up of key transportation stakeholders
  2. Serves the regional trading area businesses and economy
  3. Facilitates growth for both import and export trade logistics
  4. A mechanism for cooperation, marketing the regions trade processing abilities
  5. Provides national coordination and collaboration among ocean port users

Why Saskatchewan?

Like the Kansas City Smart Port regional model, the Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port will be anchored by “connecting” the three major cities of Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina. This will promote regional asset and system optimization. It is proposed that Saskatchewan’s central continental location and lower costs would be of sufficient appeal to attract international investor attention. The high level of cooperation among the principal transportation centres of Saskatchewan, through the tri-cities will generate distinct advantages, including:

  1. Integrate and maximize the unique sub-regional advantages of each community to generate even greater synergies than each community could achieve by working separately;
  2. Provide a value-enhancing alternative to the various less coordinated and smaller scale and scope terminals, hubs or trans-loading sites existing in other parts of Canada;
  3. Foster freight movement productivity through modernization of regulatory reform (i.e. highway road weight limits) and preservation of freight-corridor efficiency on road, rail and air.

SK Universities Attack Workers’ Rights

The academic communities at Saskatchewan’s two universities have started a petition to their Boards of Governors demanding that the Governors instruct their negotiating committee to return, “in good faith,” to the table with their support workers. The CUPE 1975 workers set up picket lines on both the Regina and Saskatoon campuses after mediator Doug Forseth said the sides were too far apart. CUPE says,

CUPE 1975 members prepare for job action – Conciliation
talks fail to produce contract settlement

October 30, 2007 05:44 PMSASKATOON/ REGINA: Conciliation talks involving CUPE 1975 members at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan broke-off last night after the employer rejected the union’s proposed offer of settlement.* The union served the employer with the required 48-hour strike notice this afternoon.

“We’re very disappointed conciliation talks failed to resolve this contract dispute,” says Brad McKaig, chair of the union’s negotiating committee. “Our union negotiating committee made significant movement on virtually every issue on the table, including monetary items, in an effort to conclude a collective agreement, but at the end of the day talks broke down over the major issues of benefits, performance reviews and wages.”

The U of S says,

CUPE Rejects University of Saskatchewan’s Final Offer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2007
2007-10-09-OTHER

Conciliation talks ended last night as CUPE 1975 rejected the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) final offer. Government’s conciliator, Doug Forseth adjourned the process in view of the Union’s lack of movement on the remaining issues.

The University offered a 17% wage increase over three years, which included wage, pension and benefit increases.

To which the CUPE workers have responded, one worker asking, “Was your calculator plugged in?”

The broader academic community has begun a petition drive demanding the Board of Governors insist its negotiating committee go back to the table “in good faith.”

The rampant right wing administration stomps on its lowest-paid workers, the ones who clean up the shit, and takes a 10% pay hike for itself.

It’s a sign of the times, isn’t it?

Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

Action: Ceasefire

From the inbox:

Prime Minister Harper,

I am deeply saddened by the news that six Canadian soldiers have died during a military offensive in Afghanistan. This brings the total number of Canadian soldiers killed to 51 since the invasion in 2001, and 43 of those deaths occurred in only the last fourteen months.

I do not support this military role for Canada, and urge your government to pursue a diplomatic solution to end the war as quickly as possible.

Add your name.

ACTION: Baird in Regina

The inbox is the source of all activity these days.  Check this out and then the following:

psst…pass it on…

Greet Federal Environment Minister John Baird

5:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canadian Italian Club
2148 Connaught Street, Regina

Bring banners, placards and noise-makers to make noise in support of a green Canada which meets its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.

“Green is the colour,
The climate is the game
We’re all together
and reducing is our aim
So let’s all work to stop climate change
Saskatchewan Green Greeters is our name”

(adapted w/o permission)

Info gathered from here