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Cootes’ Water quality report hits a nerve

Cootes’ Water quality report hits a nerve

Tempers flared at Wednesday’s meeting of City council when the staff report on the four year sewage spill into Cootes Paradise was being discussed. Ward One Councillor Maureen Wilson criticized the report, which said in effect that no special action be taken regarding water quality in Cootes Paradise, because the four-year spill had not resulted in a permanent worsening of water quality in the watercourse. In her argument she suggested that in accepting the report, Council was expressing complacency with the condition of water, which previous staff reports have acknowledged is poor and has been for many years.  Previously city staff had said in essence that the spill created a severe spike in water contamination but as it flushed through the system the marsh returned to its previous condition—which was extremely bad. Specifically, Wilson was critical of the fact that the report did not address the sludge that lines the bottom of Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise, and the effect it has on plant life in the marsh. She also criticized the fact that the report did not have any comment from RBG who actually are the owners of the marsh. “We are supposed to respond based on partnerships but we have excluded those very partners. So I don’t know what the RBG has to say. I would appreciate their comments on this report—on its methodology.”

Councillor Maureen Wilson Ward One Hamilton

The councilor’s remarks hit a nerve with councilors who seemed to interpret the criticism as a suggestion they have been complacent about the water quality issue. First Mayor Fred Eisenberger who argued that the city has been working diligently on improving water quality for decades with the establishment of the Remedial Action Plan and the work of Bay Area Restoration Council. “It is an ongoing process,” he said, and it didn’t start with the spill.” I bristle just a little bit..there was a time when all of this discharge went directly into the watershed. Do we need to take it up a notch? —it’s a continuous improvement process.”

Councilor Terry Whitehead jumped in in a similar vein making a comment about the installation of combined sewage overflow tanks that had been approved by council when Wilson’s spouse Terry Cooke was the councilor for the ward. Wilson took objection to the reference saying “I am very proud of the work of all of the former councilors from ward one including the one I am married to.” Whitehead replied that he meant no adverse inference. “ It wasn’t a criticism; it was a recognition.”

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It’s possible the controversy is far from over as the RBG, while having not provided a detailed analysis of the report so far, has signaled that it has some serious concerns. “Our initial assessment is that we strongly believe that additional analysis is required to evaluate the severity of damage at Chedoke Creek,” said RBG spokesperson Nick Kondrat. “In our view, it’s crucial to convene technical experts from the City of Hamilton, RBG, the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Conservation Halton, and others to promote information sharing, assign appropriate lines of accountability and identify ways to mitigate issues in the future.”

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  • while most humans are composed of water, Fred has Chedoke Creek in his veins. Fecal Freddy getting bristled. Funny stuff.

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