English stories

New Technology Could Allow Swimming in the River

le jeudi 20 mai 2021
Modifié à 11 h 10 min le 26 mai 2021
Par Michel Thibault


Photo : Le Soleil - Michel Thibault

The day that people will be able to swim in the Châteauguay river without risking dermatitis might not be far away. The SCABRIC and the Fondation Rivièresse have joined forces to offer a project that will aim to shed light on its swimming potential.

“A myth to dispell: brownish-coloured water is not an indicator of pollution. This colour is due to the colour of the earth.” - Félix Blackburn  
“The concentration of coliforms is the main factor that could restrict swimming,” explained Félix Blackburn, the Director General of SCABRIC. New technology, ColiMinder, allows the concentration of coliforms in the water to be monitored in real time, he emphasized. “Samples can be taken every 4 hours and the result of the analyses can be ascertained within 15 minutes,” he went on. So, the SCABRIC and the Fondation Rivières are proposing to “prepare a true portrait of the bacteriological quality of the water in the Châteauguay River and evaluate the possibility of opening beaches in Huntingdon, Ormstown, Sainte-Martine and Châteauguay”. A ColiMinder would be installed at the drinking water intake in Huntingdon. Measures would be conducted regularly and transmitted in real time to researchers at Université TÉLUQ and Université de Montréal, who are leading a study on pesticides in the river. For its part, SCABRIC will take water samples at the sites proposed for opening beaches. “We do not currently know whether we can swim in the river. We will have the tools to be able to figure that out,” underscored Mr. Blackburn.   In the case of wastewater overflow, for example, in just 15 minutes ColiMinder would allow us to know when the river water is once again acceptable, he illustrated. In Châteauguay, the Seers, de la Commune and Laberge Parks are being considered as potential sites. In Sainte-Martine: at the foot of the Dunn dam.   Assomption River Mr. Blackburn says he is “thrilled” by the project as a trial on the Assomption River has been conclusive. “The Assomption River is almost identical to Châteauguay’s in terms of village cores and farmland,” he said. Following bacteriological monitoring by Fondation Rivières, “L’Assomption is considering opening a beach!” Félix Blackburn exclaimed. “We can hope for results that are just as positive for the Châteauguay River,” he foresees.   Funding The cost of the project is estimated at $60,000. Both organizations have $20,000 secured and are looking for support to make ends meet. They are currently approaching municipalities and others to move forward. “We can’t miss out on this. The project will generate so much knowledge about the quality of our river’s water”, Mr. Blackburn said. (Translation Amanda Bennett)