MONTREAL — Nov. 9, 2015 — Canada’s new environment minister has said that the City of Montreal can proceed with a planned discharge of untreated wastewater once it meets new conditions for monitoring the release and minimizing its environmental impact, according to a press release.

The controversial plan involves diverting a major sewer interceptor into the St. Lawrence River during demolition of the Bonaventure Expressway, noted the release. This would send about one-third of the city’s raw sewage from storm drains, homes and industry directly into the river over the course of a week.

City officials had planned to begin the wastewater dump in mid-October but the federal government intervened, appointing an independent panel of three scientists to study the plan.

In response to their findings, the Liberal government’s new environment minister, Catherine McKenna, issued a final order on Monday requiring the City of Montreal to:

  • Prepare an emergency management plan for dealing with unanticipated deposits from large industrial, institutional or commercial facilities.
  • Establish visual surveillance during the discharge, and deploy measures to clean up affected areas.Conduct enhanced monitoring of water quality, sediments and plants before, during and after the discharge.
  • Participate in a comprehensive review of the events leading to the City’s decision to dump the raw sewage.

Montreal can proceed with the discharge under these conditions until December 5, 2015.

“While I recognize that this release of untreated wastewater is far from ideal, the City of Montreal must perform timely critical maintenance of their infrastructure to prevent an unplanned release that could be even more damaging to the environment and its aquatic species,” McKenna said in a statement.

“The changes I am requiring to the City of Montreal’s plan will ensure that reasonable mitigation measures are put in place, and will assess the actual impact of the discharge to improve scientific data.”

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said that the City will meet the conditions and go ahead with the discharge.

You can find the entire release here.