The river continues to divide them

Opening of the Petitcodiac’s gates will increase pollution, say critics


Moncton Times & Transcript/ CP

The causeway gates holding back the Petitcodiac River from Coverdale to Moncton, N.B., opened last week, allowing the waters to flow freely for the first time since the land bridge was constructed in 1968. About 500 people gathered to watch, and while many cheered, dozens were left fuming. “It will become a muddy tidal river that won’t be used for recreation,” says Kevin Campbell, a member of the Lake Petitcodiac Preservation Association.

The causeway was originally built to control flooding and link Moncton and Riverview, N.B. It resulted in the creation of a large head pond, around which a community sprung up. But, says Tim Van Hinte, a spokesperson for Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, “the river was dying because of the causeway.” The water forced upstream twice a day by the Bay of Fundy’s powerful tides was interrupted, depositing tonnes of silt along the shore, choking what was originally a mile-wide river to 100 m. It interrupted migration and dramatically reduced the populations of Atlantic salmon, shad and seven other kinds of fish.

After years of pressure from environmentalists, the province announced a $68-million plan to replace the causeway with a bridge. But many homeowners living near the head pond are worried about reduced property values and increased pollution from a sewage treatment plant downstream. And the Lake Petitcodiac Preservation Association says the project will cost more than double what the government claims. So Campbell’s organization and the Alma Fishermen’s

Association are seeking an injunction to close the gates again. But the lawsuits haven’t fazed the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, an organization fighting to restore the river. “If they weren’t allowed to open the gates they wouldn’t have,” says Van Hinte. “I’m not a lawyer, but I’m not concerned.”


The river continues to divide them

  1. When is the media going to publish the truth about this issue? The opening of the gates totally killed a thriving eco-system and replaced it with an additional 22 kilometres of polluted water. The water test taken on the lake side of the river taken last week after the opening of the river came in at 5000 parts per million. That is way over the legal limit for any kind of contact. The real concern of the people on the lake is the loss of habitat of the wild life, the very real concern for the pollution that looms in their neighbourhood. What are the long term effects of that polluted water running daily in the lake? The sewage treatment plant is only at the 1st phase of construction…so far no level of government has committed any money to bring the sewage treatment plant to level that will clean the water. Concern for loss of property value is the least of my concern and the least of the concern of my neighbours. I live near the lake. I'm not rich, I don't own a boat and I don't have any plans to sell my house. I just worried I may get sick from the pollution.

  2. I just SO VERY MUCH WISH that the people who are blaming the causeway for the silting of the Petitcodiac and the demise of boating and of fishing that they listen to the facts from people who lived on the river below the present causeway. The older folks ALL know that the Irvings stopped coming up with their oil tankers LONG, LONG before the causeway went in!!! How can they totally ignore those facts — those people are not liers!!! Many people remember Irvings having to dredge around about where Chateau Moncton is because the tankers could not get in close enough to the wharf — again, LONG, LONG before the causeway. What caused that silting??? Please answer me!!!

    • That's a very idiotic statement. The river has ALWAYS had a silting problem. The Mi'kmaq people are the ones who came up with the name "Chocolate River". The Bay of Fundy pushed up the silt to Salisbury, where it then settled; with the causeway, it would simply stop at Moncton and become more concentrated.

      Don't be a fool and blame this natural occurrence on Irving.

  3. I' m with you!! Most of the population of the Greater Moncton Area are not aware of the facts of the river and they follow the riverkeeper because of the marketing campaign that they did with the support of the Provincial Government!! The headpond or (Lake) as we liked to call it it now as polluted as the rest of the river because the pollution from the dumps (3) and the sewage treatment plant is being served to all of those above the causeway as well as in front of Moncton!! All of you who thing the tidal bore is so much more powerful now that the gates are open (obviously you haven't seen it for a while) watch and see when the gasperaux has their spring run again this year in June to see how many end up dead due to the pollution that they try to swim through to get up river. I'm telling you people, open your eyes and see that the river is not ever going to be like it was prior to the causeway, there was never a sewage treatment plant of the dumps leaching into that river!!!!!! It is not only government responsible for this change it is supposedly responsible RIVERKEEPERS who claim to be environmentalist who are supporting this travesty. I challenge all of you that support this change in the river to get the real facts….don't expect to be able to use this river anytime soon for recreational purposes……please respond

    • I'm with you too!

  4. The Riverkeepers organization in Moncton should be held responsible for the damage that are occurring. It was their threat of suing the government over fishpassage issues that FORCED this government to open the gates regardless of the consequences. It was pressure from the Riverkeepers to open the gates prematurely – before the government was finished stage one of the project. In less than 2 weeks over 7 inches of mud has accumulated near my home, which is 5km UPSTREAM from the causeway. The bacteria levels went from 2 E. coli per 100ml before the causeway gates were opened up to 5500 counts per 100ml at FULL dilution (ie high tide). Someone's child is going to get seriously hurt or worse – my biggest fear is that the public learns the truth that such a tragedy if one happens could have been prevented! WHEN that happens and it WILL someone will have to held accountable!

  5. I challenge the reporter from McCleans Magazine to do an interview with LAPPA on this issue. Get the truth guys. It's about time

  6. well its been a few months now, and as usual, media hype has pretty much died about the subject, ecoli has only gotten much much worse since the opening, river has gotten deeper and OOOOOO WOW! we have our Ripple back! ya freakin horay. we went from a small ripple we had before to a big ripple in the water, for all those fooled by the tourism advertising, the tidal bore (lovingly called total bore by locals) has gotten a little bigger, thats great! lets pollute the whole friggin river so we can see a ripple of water bigger again.

  7. (cont) The beautiful lake (head pond) is now a huge mudflat except at the highest of high tides. did I mention pollution is through the roof. the 2 toxic dumps, are starting to be eaten away because of the pathetic job at barricading the toxic dumps from the water, garbage is starting to flush into the river. they have announced and posted signs that the water is not for recreational use due to the pollution, which before you could enjoy it. they are saying 2 to 5 years before they fix the sewage treatment plant, because legislation will force them too. and another 5 years and a bridge might be able to be put in to open up the pollution more. Riverkeepers havn't even mentioned the millions upon millions it will cost to either wall up the dumps from the river or move 2 dumps with 20 years of toxic garbage in it. they didn't think ahead before opening the gates, I would have supported it if they had fixed the treatment plant first, then removed the dumps, then open gates then build bridge. they did it in the wrong order. now we just have toxic hell.

    • News flash: the headpond was never safe for recreation. Samples taken before the opening of the causeway showed that fecal coliform levels were off the scale (Canadian guidelines require anything under 200 ppm/ml, while the headpond clocked in at 2416 ppm/ml, which was the maximum that could be displayed on the machines. If you ever swam in that, don't be surprised if you were sick the next day.