EASTMAIN ENVIRONMENTAL PROFILE

Prepared by: Chris Merriman, LEA

DRINKING WATER SOURCE

In 1999, two wells that had provided water to the water distribution plant since the late 1970s, due to sand, rust and increased salinity, finally stopped supplying adequate water. Two emergency wells were drilled outside the water plant to provide water for a short period of time.

Sources for a new and adequate water supply were investigated and a plan to retrieve water from the moraine behind the water plant was decided on. Clearing of a one-square kilometre area and drilling began in 2000. Three pads were built, one pad contained 26 shallow wells, and the other two contained 15 wells each. The three sets of wells were connected to two pumping stations that pumped the water to the water treatment plant. Water volume can be increased or decreased at the wells or pump stations. This system came on line in the spring of 2001.

DRINKING WATER TREATMENT AND DISTRIBUTION

While work was commencing on the water source, renovations were being done on the water treatment plant including a new 725 cubic metre reservoir, a new laboratory and a generator to run the entire treatment system.

As the new source of water still contains iron, manganese, colour and turbidity (to a lesser extent than the previous source) it still has to be treated with chemicals and filtered. Untreated water is automatically dosed with PASS and polymer chemicals to remove colour and turbidity, and then the water is filtered and stored in a reservoir for partly treated water. The water is then treated with potassium permanganate for removal of iron and manganese and then filtered before being stored in the distribution reservoir. Chlorine is added to the treated water before entering the reservoir and before it enters the distribution system. Laboratory tests are done daily to monitor the water purity and chlorine levels.

To prevent freezing, the water is distibuted in a loop system which means it is pumped around the community and the unused water returns to the treatment plant. This keeps the water moving continually. The return water is tested daily for chlorine levels and bacteria.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

Due to a shortage of suitable land for a lagoon system, in the early 1980s the community of Eastmain decided to use Rotating Biological Contacters (RBC) to treat the community wastewater. This system was renovated with new plastic media, a primary and secondary clarifier, new piping, pumps and motors, a new basement for sludge pumps and pipes, and a ventilation room in the mid 1990s. The system is also known as a Bio-disc.

The RBC system is basically a biological process where plastic media is used to support the necessary bacteria for sewage treatment. This media is exposed along a shaft which, by its rotation, alternately exposes the micro-organisms to air and wastewater, thus enabling aerobic treatment to take place.

There are four sections of plastic media and they operatie in series. Water goes in sequence from stage one until four and is then discharged to the secondary clarifier. The first stage receiving the most organic load has the largest area. The necessary micro-organisms for such a treatment are naturally present in the wastewater and their development on the RBC media does not require any particular action except to make sure rotation occurs.

SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT

A new solid waste disposal site and closure of the old waste disposal site became part of the new water system proposal. The old waste disposal site was initially a trenching site located one-kilometre from the community, but because of a high water table, the trenches filled with water and it became a dump site. The new site is located 10 kilometres from the community and there are specific areas for tires, building waste and metal. With opening of the new waste disposal site, regular garbage pickup began and a larger refuse truck was purchased to collect domestic waste.

Hazardous waste such as batteries, paint, solvents and used oil are stored at the Nabashou Garage for shipment south by an authorised company. The clinic sends medical waste to the Chisasibi Hospital for disposal.

COMMUNITY-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS & PROJECTS

The community of Eastmain is becoming more involved in collecting soft drink and other cans for recycling and in collecting small used batteries so that they are not dumpted into the landfill. The community is also looking into recycling plastic bottles.

Landscaping by planting trees around the community will be occurring and most houses have lawns and flowers planted.