NATIONAL

PRETTY SMELLY

Sewage is causing a stink at one of our most beautiful attractions

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI October 9 2006
NATIONAL

PRETTY SMELLY

Sewage is causing a stink at one of our most beautiful attractions

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI October 9 2006

PRETTY SMELLY

Sewage is causing a stink at one of our most beautiful attractions

NATIONAL

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI

Every day, busloads of tourists invade Peggy’s Cove. Passengers admire the world-famous lighthouse, order a bowl of seafood chowder from the Sou’Wester restaurant, and, if they’re lucky, spend a minute or two chatting with one of the few Nova Scotia fishermen who still live in the village. CN Tower aside, it is arguably the most photographed spot in Canada.

Stop by now, and you might be able to snap a few shots of something else: raw sewage. According to a report prepared for the Halifax regional municipality, “malfunctioning” septic systems pose a looming health hazard: “raw sewage has been showing up at ground surface and in some cases, the sewage is being discharged directly into the ocean.” Some private wells contain such high levels of iron and manganese, the report adds, that “it may be unlikely that individual safe and reliable well water supplies can be found.” The problem has more to do with the few dozen people who live in Peggy’s Cove than the half-million who visit every year. Many of the vintage homes that overlook the Atlantic are equipped with rusty water pipes and aging septic tanks. Add the rocky terrain and, as the report says, “these conditions are not well-suited for on-site sub-surface sewage disposal.” So plug your nose .“Ido suspect if you get close enough to a few personal properties and the wind is the right way, you’re going to get a little whiff of something,” says Murray Garrison, a fisherman whose family has lived in the village for four generations. “But you’re not seeing bubbling cauldrons of you know what coming up through the ground.” Not yet, at least. “Come for the natural beauty and see the sh~,” jokes Sue Uteck, a Halifax regional councillor. She suggests charging a $1 Peggy’s Cove admission fee to help cover a hefty repair bill. “I’m an avid camper, and I have no problems going and paying $28 a night at a provincial park to pay for that beauty,” she says. “I’d pay a buck a head to help those guys out.” Some tourists might be willing to do the same. Or they might just find a different place to visit. M