Top News

ALEX HARROLD: A wasted effort

Alex Harrold
Alex Harrold - SaltWire File Photo

Living in an outport community presents us with challenges lost on city dwellers. Urbanites feel the same way about living in a city.
We manage fairly well out here with some of the disadvantages most of the time. Governments are not friendly to us though. A shifting population requires various governments to make decisions that favour a centralization of services, which usually results in making our lives out here a little bit harder, and substantially more expensive. 
Two things come to mind: garbage, and sewage. Humans are unique when it comes to garbage and sewage. We create both in such large amounts we find it necessary to dig a large hole to store and burn it, or we dump it in the ocean. Both methods are apparently acceptable. We’ve been doing the same thing since we stopped being nomads and opted to live in cities. You know, like civilized folks do.
Government’s solution to 200 or so mini-dumps of garbage is to centralize the collection process, which requires anyone not in a major centre to have their garbage trucked hundreds of kilometres “away.” Human nature being what it is, a lot of rural garbage isn’t making it there. It’s just showing up in different rural areas than it used to, resulting in mini-mini dumps. 
The garbage that does get shipped results in higher prices for garbage collection being passed on to rural areas. The fact that we all create as much garbage as we do is a big enough problem. Shouldn’t we be addressing the sources of throw away material to begin with, rather than  moving it around? Fact: we’re just not ready to live with less than we’re used to.
Sewage treatment is a little different, even though “treatment” is oxymoronic. Collecting sewage in a city is a centralized action, so folks in the city generally flush it “away” and never think about it again. Until they go to a beach. Then, they should think about where exactly “away” is.
In a place where you have the room, a septic tank with a seepage bed is more environmentally friendly. A proper seepage bed is able to filter out any potentially harmful substances and the water can be taken up in the water cycle. Animals, you remember, need not engage in this activity. However, even with this apparent rural advantage, there remains a flaw.
Septic tanks do need to be pumped out on occasion. Believe it or not, government has their hand in this (not literally), as they control who can obtain a permit to pump and dump sewage. The few companies that engage in this activity appear to have a monopoly on this business. Here on the Baie Verte Peninsula, if you want a septic tank pumped out, you have to contact a company far away, and pay as much as $750, or even $1,000, to have that done. Forward-thinking individuals in the area have tried, and failed, to secure the necessary permits to operate a similar business locally. One is left to assume that competition is being consciously thwarted.
Life has always been a little harder in an outport. Opportunities have dried up. Now, basic services traditionally taken for granted are also becoming more onerous to do without. Recycling costs us more. As stupid as this sounds, treating sewage costs us more. You can provide the reasons, but that doesn’t mean they make any more sense than the problems to begin with.
Trucking sewage hundreds of kilometres to “treat” it? Where the heck is this placed called “away?”
And, if someone local wants to start a business doing that, they shouldn’t be blocked.

Recent Stories