From Quebec leaders on treating landfill leachate in Lake Memphremagog

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The Members of Parliament for Brome-Missisquoi, Sherbrooke and Compton-Stanstead, the Members of the National Assembly for Orford and Sherbrooke, the Reeve of the Memphremagog MRC, the Mayor of Magog, and the Mayor of Sherbrooke, make the following statement:

Whereas Lake Memphremagog is a natural treasure and a source of drinking water for 175,000 residents of the region, emerging contaminants have been detected in the intake of the drinking water treatment plant of the city of Sherbrooke.

The current amount is minimal, does not pose a health concern, and is well below the maximum amounts and health standards.

A moratorium on the discharge of leachate treated by the Newport water treatment plant into Lake Memphremagog until 2023 was obtained in an out-of-court agreement between New England Waste Services and a group of citizens concerned about maintaining the quality of their environment.

In conjunction with this effort, on July 23, 2019, the Environmental Commission Act 250 stemming from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources also prohibited, through condition 18 of permit #7R0841-13, the processing of leachate at the landfill or anywhere in the Lake Memphremagog watershed.

Any request to modify this restriction would need to be supported by science, new technologies, and new data that demonstrate the absence of undue risk to the quality of drinking water from Lake Memphremagog.

The presence of emerging contaminants may pose a risk to human and environmental health.

For this reason and as a precautionary measure, we call on all stakeholders to take note of this situation and to take the necessary actions to protect the quality of drinking water from Lake Memphremagog.

We welcome the current moratorium and will do everything in our power to ensure that the treatment of leachate in the Newport treatment plant is prohibited in the long term.

We will continue to collaborate with the region’s elected officials and our existing political networks while basing our actions on facts, science, and the precautionary principle.

The protection of Lake Memphremagog is a priority shared by all elected officials in the region at all levels of government.

We remain committed to protecting the environment and water quality of Lake Memphremagog.

This statement was signed by Quebec mayors Steve Lussier of Sherbrooke, Mayor Vicki-May Hamm of Magog and Lisette Maillee of Austin, Jacques Demers, the head of the Memphremagog region’s council of municipalities, Canadian members of Parliament Marie-Claude Bibeau of Compton- Stanstead, Elisabeth Briere of Sherbrooke, and Lyne Bessette of Brome-Missisquoi, and the Quebec provincial deputies Gilles Belanger of Orford and Christine Labrie of Sherbrooke.

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