Over the summer there was a pollution study done at Sauble. In several commentaries I expressed concern that the study contractor, Neil Hutchinson, would find both E. Coli. and caffeine in some samples and would make the ridiculous, unsupportable claim that positive caffeine test in a sample with positive E. Coli. indicates that the E.Coli. came from a septic system.
It seems my concerns were well-founded.
Neil Hutchinson’s draft report was circulated to members of the Sauble Sewers Ad Hoc Committee on Thursday November 15th. The report was discussed by the committee in a meeting on November 16th. Members of the public were allowed to be present, but were not permitted to see the draft report.
Here is what I learned from the discussion.
There were 100 private Sauble wells and sand points tested.
Two of the 100 tested positive for E. Coli. (2% were positive, essentially the same as the 1.8 % in the 1996 survey.)
One sample tested positive for caffeine. It was not one of the two that tested positive for E. Coli.
Ditches and beach drains were also sampled. Most or all were positive for E. Coli, but all were below the provincial limit for recreational water use. Most or all were also positive for caffeine.
In the draft report, author Neil Hutchinson concluded that there is no widespread pollution problem.
(This conclusion and the data put to a lie the Genivar Environmental Study Report (ESR) of December 2010 and must put the Genivar ESR and the proposed 70 million dollar sewers project straight in the garbage bin.)
It appears that in the pollution study report author Neil Hutchinson concluded that because there was caffeine and E. Coli. in the ditch samples, the E. Coli. in the ditches was from septic systems.
Several committee members pointed out that Hutchinson’s conclusion was groundless and invalid. The committee agreed to have Hutchinson remove this invalid conclusion from the report.
With the report, as amended, showing no problem and certainly no problem warranting the 70 million dollar Genivar “solution”, the pro-sewer members of the committee, namely Jay Kirkland, Robert Ciprick, and chairman Gary Roberts, started damage control.
Chairman Gary Roberts suggested making the sewers decision based not on the pollution study data, but rather on Gary Palmateer’s claims of the problems of septic systems (Gary Palmateer is the buddy of Gary Robert’s who in a three hour presentation to the committee misrepresented the bad effects of septic systems).
Committee member Robert Ciprick went way out of the committee scope, arguing that the sewers decision should be based on economic benefits of sewers rather than on the data from the amended Hutchison report.
Committee member Jay Kirkland appeared to support that there was no problem warranting sewers. But he knows that the December 2010 Genivar ESR showed E. Coli. levels in the ditches at some times several orders of magnitude above the provincial standard (of 100 colony forming units per milliliter).
So when Mr. Kirkland said in the meeting “we don’t need sewers as long as the E. Coli. in the ditches is less than the provincial standard”, was he just waiting for the right time to pull up the Genivar data and say “oh my gosh …. look at these E. Coli. levels … they’re way above the provincial standard … I guess we need sewers”?
I’m keeping an eye on those three.
The final report from Hutchinson should be available for public review the week of December 3rd.
The committee owes their report to council by the end of this year.
An audio record of the November 16 committee meeting is at: