What’s in the Rigaud River?

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
There’s a strong smell coming from the Rigaud River in East Hawkesbury Township and an Ontario Environment investigator is going to find out why.

“I’m making observations and taking (river) samples,” said Melissa Forget, a provincial environmental officer, during a brief interview Thursday, September 2.

Forget and Jessy Hoffman, the township’s chief building officer and bylaw enforcement officer, were following the course of the river along County Road 10, starting from the bridge at the intersection with Grand Montée and heading towards the Village of St-Eugène.

Anyone crossing the bridge either on foot or in a vehicle would notice a sulfurous “rotten egg” smell coming off the river. Denis Lauzon, who lives in the area, said the smell was even worse the day before and there was also a thick film of scum floating on the water surface.

“It was heavy stuff,” he said. “You could (almost) walk on the river.”

Lauzon called the offices of both MPP Amanda Simard and MP Francis Drouin to get their help alerting the environment ministry. He also reported the matter to township officials.

Chris Brown lives on Concession 5 along the river, midway between the bridge crossings at Grand Montée and Duplantie Road. He noticed September 1 that the river was black, instead of its normal milky-brown colour.

“It smelt like a septic tank,” Brown said.

He phoned the ministry the following day to report the smell and water colour. When asked if he’d seen any dead fish in the river, he said no but then on the Friday he discovered “thousands of primarily juvenile and mature rock bass and yellow perch” floating dead in the river. He has since notified MoE about the dead fish.

At present, there is no further confirmed information about what is responsible for conditions in the Rigaud River. Updates will be made to this story when more details become available.