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Huntingdon is ranked second worst in the province for untreated wastewater spills

The town of Huntingdon has been ranked in second position in terms of untreated wastewater spills amongst Quebec municipalities in 2022.

The Fondation Rivières released its annual ranking of Quebec municipalities based on the intensity of wastewater spills, or discharges of untreated water into rivers and waterways, on October 26. The list compares the performance of municipalities in terms of waste-water management and considers municipal infrastructure and the duration of spills. It features several Valley municipalities including Huntingdon, Ormstown, Saint-Chrysostome, Howick, and Hemmingford.

The ranking is based on data from the Ministry of Environment (MELCCFP), and the spill intensity index per inhabitant developed by the Fondation Rivières. It considers the duration of spills as measured by an electronic overflow recorder (EED), and the size of the overflow structures within municipal sewer networks.

The province saw 57,263 wastewater spills discharged without treatment into waterways in 2022, where the Montérégie ranks first among the regions in terms of spills. Combined, the five Valley municipalities on the list recorded 430 wastewater spills in 2022.

Huntingdon received an intensity ranking of 109.88 per capita, which is considered very high and second only to the municipality of Caplan in the in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region. There were 48 spills recorded in Huntingdon in 2022 from its nine overflow structures; however, the data on these spills may be incomplete, as the Fondation Rivières gave the municipality a failing grade for the quality of its measurements and listed it as one of 21 priority municipalities not adequately measuring overflow durations.

Martin Forget, the water treatment supervisor for the town of Huntingdon, disputes the way the duration of the spills was reported by the Foundation, which calculated 24 hours for every overflow event that was not measured by an EED. Forget says the town installed these recorders last November and is working on calibrating the devices. He is concerned that the report grossly misrepresents the situation in Huntingdon, as some overflows only last for minutes – during heavy rain events, for example.

Ormstown is also included on the list in 49th position with 203 spills in 2022 and an intensity of 16.18 per capita. Saint-Chrysostome is ranked in 60th position with a spill intensity of 13.42 per capita and 97 spills. Howick ranked in 89th position and Hemmingford is in 101st position with 28 and 54 spills respectively. All four of those municipalities received an A+ for the quality of their measurements.

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