Beach closed due to sewage

Everton McLean
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Sewer-line break keeps Torbay Beach closed since May

Steve Bradley lies on a beach towel at Torbay Beach. He's soaking in some sun rays - burning, maybe - on a beautiful afternoon with no wind and no fog obscuring nearby cliffs and crags.

He's visiting from Ontario, and he's enamoured by the nice weather and scenery.

But just a few metres away, in a rocky piece of the shore, a turbid bubble keeps appearing with bits of paper and sewage rolling out along the rocks.

A woman walks near a sign announcing the closure of Torbay Beach due a sewer-line break. The signs been up since May. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Steve Bradley lies on a beach towel at Torbay Beach. He's soaking in some sun rays - burning, maybe - on a beautiful afternoon with no wind and no fog obscuring nearby cliffs and crags.

He's visiting from Ontario, and he's enamoured by the nice weather and scenery.

But just a few metres away, in a rocky piece of the shore, a turbid bubble keeps appearing with bits of paper and sewage rolling out along the rocks.

It's been like that since May 8, when Torbay council issued a notice and installed signs telling visitors the beach is closed due to a break in a sewer pipe, the cause of the bubble.

When told about the refuse leaking so close to his relaxation place, Bradley starts to pack his things.

He says he can't understand why the problem has gone on for so long.

"You'd think they'd be all over this," he says, referring to environmentalists and town officials.

"It's a nice secluded area. It's beautiful here.

"I think somebody should do something."

According to Torbay Mayor Bob Codner, they're trying.

But patching the two-foot-long hole is proving a challenge.

"Then we had to go through a lot of hoops with the process," he said.

First, they needed money to do the work.

The provincial Municipal Affairs department came onside to provide $75,000, representing 80 per cent of the cost.

The town pays the rest.

The town's engineers then got a dive team to examine the sewage pipe, which is supposed to deliver the sewage farther out into the harbour.

They scoured the line for beach rock that might have gotten into the hole and examined the pipe for more problems.

"The good news was there was no other visible damage," said Codner.

That evaluation was done about six weeks ago.

The town is now waiting for the dive team to return from another project before it can get the hole patched.

It'll take some heavy construction work to fix the hole. The iron pipe, which was laid in 1983, is surrounded by more than a foot of concrete and a 5/8 inch steel plate. Codner said it's a little surprising the pipe could be damaged, but with the constant pull of tides moving rock around it, he imagines a mixture of corrosion and constant battering got the best of the pipe.

While the town's immediate job is to get the hole fixed so people like Bradley can enjoy the beach, Codner said council will soon have to examine a more environmentally friendly way of disposing of the town's waste, rather than simply pumping raw sewage out to sea.

While the long pipe sends sewage far out to sea - when it's working properly - leaving the beach clean, "it's still contamination in the ocean," Codner said. "These outfalls are not environmentally acceptable anymore," said Codner, noting the federal government recently announced changes to regulations that will require at least secondary treatment for all outfalls in the near future. "It's the consensus of our council and all our residents that we need to go there. Dumping raw sewage into the ocean is not acceptable anymore."

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Torbay council

Geographic location: Ontario, Torbay

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Recent comments

  • Bones II
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    we have people unemployed and in car crashes because kieth didnt took down this womans info? grow up and get sum learnin

  • The Donald
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Looks like a nice beach. Where is Torbay anyway? How do I get there?

  • Waylon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Maybe the stuff from Torbay is floating all the way up the shore as far as Topsail? Visit Topsail near the soccer field and you'll see tons of bathroom waste. Oh. Wait. That's from the broken treatment plant in Topsail. I forgot.

  • Jackie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Mr. Ellsworth, Diane is probably just wondering why residents of St. John's have to pay so much to have the treatment plant here, when people in Torbay don't have to pay for the mess out there.

  • Ron
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Thank you Jackie; good point.

  • omg
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Did anyone actually go down there and look? besides the water the beach is still pretty clean.ive been down there a few times ...just dont go in the water...

  • Christine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    The bubble has been spewing since last fall. Toilet paper and tampons have been littering the beach like capelin.

    This spring, after local residents kicked up a fuss and had the mayor and a town staff person come out to see the mess, the town has been sending somebody to clean the beach regularly. Since then they hired a firm to clear the pipe and do the repairs. Two weeks turned into many more. A bigger job than anticipated?

    The same locals have asked for the signs to be moved so that they're more visible. I live there and walk past them every day. They're really inconspicuous, considering their enormous size! The one is too high for people intent on going to the beach, and the other sign is across the barred-off bridge and faces towards the woods where nobody can see what it says. It should be facing up towards the (East Coast) trail so that hikers can actually read it as they come down the hill.

    Where is Torbay? It's up Torbay Road, just a few minutes north of St. John's. Flat Rock and Pouch Cove are north of Torbay.

    For those who have been hearing about the Dominion Hill issue, (the conservation area being rezoned to residential to allow a bed & breakfast (Rooming Houses) to be built directly on the coast), the area in question is along the coastline just a couple minutes walk from the beach being polluted. Bed & Breakfast with a beautiful view of a spew of poo. No joke. I live there too. (too much rhyme? sorry.)

    Dominion Hill is one of the best scenic viewpoints along the Torbay Bight and tourists and locals park on it all the time. From it, you can see the whales come into the bay after the capelin, enjoy watching the boats anchored along Tapper's Cove during the food fishery, watch the waves curl and crash onto the rocks of the coast...

    The coastal area here is a beautiful tourist attraction in and of itself, and the East Coast Trail runs alongside all of it!

  • Billy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    So, is the beach closed or not? The sign is ambiguous, in my opinion. First the public are Advised that THe Beach is Closed to the Public , then they are Advised to Avoid the Beach , etc.
    The different usages of the term advised seem to leave it up to the public to decide whether or not to ignore that advice.

    Let me stress the fact that this is merely my opinion.

  • Stan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    this story brings new meaning to calling someone a bubble

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I hope Kieth took down this woman's info and sent it off to have her charged with failing to heed to posted signage.

    No wonder we have so many people unemployed and in car crashes. No one can read what is clearly printed in front of them.

  • Ron
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Diane, I'm curious about your statement. What has this got to do with St. John's?

  • Donny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Must be able to get a house in Torbay for next to nothin' these days. A water ban all summer and human waste pouring onto the beach since the spring. Nice!

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    The Donald from NL writes: Looks like a nice beach. Where is Torbay anyway? How do I get there?


    Just follow the aroma.

  • Diane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Aren't we paying through the nose to clean up St. John's Harbour after decades of the same disgusting abuse? How can this be allowed to continue?

  • Mr.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Anyone who reads this forum would agree that some people can not read nor comprehend what is written in front of their eyes.

  • Calhoun
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    What sign?

  • Typhoid Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Jim Smith and Mr. Poindexter its probably not that they cant read, its more likely they think it doesnt apply to them, that they are an exception, special or priviledged like most of us do. We dont have to take this advice, obey or even read it. The world revolves around us. There is no one else that matters only me me me me and me.

    Oh, that is here in Newfoundland ? Sorry, you are right, they cant read.

  • Matt
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I'll bet Nate and Bones always drive under the speed limit, too, like the responsible citizens they are.

    Sure.

  • S'okay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    That's s'okay. The Council in CBS sees fit to put ice on the stadium in Kelligrews so a few people can play curling. This in the middle of a water ban. Must be LOTS of recycled dirty bathwater in that stadium, if the Council is playing by THEIR OWN RULES.
    Municipalities are coming to piece, people.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Bones: had you read the sign in the photo correctly, you might have noticed that it said the public are (sic.) advised... not prohibited by law. She cannot be charged on those grounds. That being said, I agree that some people can't read what is printed in front of them.

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    To read or not read is the question. To see and be around your toilet bowl is another thing. I wonder if those that think the sing is proper and should only act as advise are willing to foot the medical bills for those that could be infected with everything that the sewers have to offer?

    Face it, the sign tells people to stay away. They have failed to read or properly comprehend what is clearly in front of them, well behind that one after clearly walking right past it. People like her and the others that spent time around this slop need to be held responsible should medical assistance be required for the stupidity to adhere to the warning. In the future I would think that it should no longer be a warning, rather an order to clarify things for those that can not get the message.

    Maybe a skull and cross bones for bones to get it's jollies from will be needed.

    Do you need to see Blinky walking up onto the rocks before people will get the message that we have destroyed our nature surroundings?

  • Bones II
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    we have people unemployed and in car crashes because kieth didnt took down this womans info? grow up and get sum learnin

  • The Donald
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Looks like a nice beach. Where is Torbay anyway? How do I get there?

  • Jackie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Mr. Ellsworth, Diane is probably just wondering why residents of St. John's have to pay so much to have the treatment plant here, when people in Torbay don't have to pay for the mess out there.

  • Waylon
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Maybe the stuff from Torbay is floating all the way up the shore as far as Topsail? Visit Topsail near the soccer field and you'll see tons of bathroom waste. Oh. Wait. That's from the broken treatment plant in Topsail. I forgot.

  • Ron
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Thank you Jackie; good point.

  • omg
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Did anyone actually go down there and look? besides the water the beach is still pretty clean.ive been down there a few times ...just dont go in the water...

  • Christine
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    The bubble has been spewing since last fall. Toilet paper and tampons have been littering the beach like capelin.

    This spring, after local residents kicked up a fuss and had the mayor and a town staff person come out to see the mess, the town has been sending somebody to clean the beach regularly. Since then they hired a firm to clear the pipe and do the repairs. Two weeks turned into many more. A bigger job than anticipated?

    The same locals have asked for the signs to be moved so that they're more visible. I live there and walk past them every day. They're really inconspicuous, considering their enormous size! The one is too high for people intent on going to the beach, and the other sign is across the barred-off bridge and faces towards the woods where nobody can see what it says. It should be facing up towards the (East Coast) trail so that hikers can actually read it as they come down the hill.

    Where is Torbay? It's up Torbay Road, just a few minutes north of St. John's. Flat Rock and Pouch Cove are north of Torbay.

    For those who have been hearing about the Dominion Hill issue, (the conservation area being rezoned to residential to allow a bed & breakfast (Rooming Houses) to be built directly on the coast), the area in question is along the coastline just a couple minutes walk from the beach being polluted. Bed & Breakfast with a beautiful view of a spew of poo. No joke. I live there too. (too much rhyme? sorry.)

    Dominion Hill is one of the best scenic viewpoints along the Torbay Bight and tourists and locals park on it all the time. From it, you can see the whales come into the bay after the capelin, enjoy watching the boats anchored along Tapper's Cove during the food fishery, watch the waves curl and crash onto the rocks of the coast...

    The coastal area here is a beautiful tourist attraction in and of itself, and the East Coast Trail runs alongside all of it!

  • Billy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    So, is the beach closed or not? The sign is ambiguous, in my opinion. First the public are Advised that THe Beach is Closed to the Public , then they are Advised to Avoid the Beach , etc.
    The different usages of the term advised seem to leave it up to the public to decide whether or not to ignore that advice.

    Let me stress the fact that this is merely my opinion.

  • Stan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    this story brings new meaning to calling someone a bubble

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    I hope Kieth took down this woman's info and sent it off to have her charged with failing to heed to posted signage.

    No wonder we have so many people unemployed and in car crashes. No one can read what is clearly printed in front of them.

  • Ron
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Diane, I'm curious about your statement. What has this got to do with St. John's?

  • Donny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Must be able to get a house in Torbay for next to nothin' these days. A water ban all summer and human waste pouring onto the beach since the spring. Nice!

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    The Donald from NL writes: Looks like a nice beach. Where is Torbay anyway? How do I get there?


    Just follow the aroma.

  • Diane
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Aren't we paying through the nose to clean up St. John's Harbour after decades of the same disgusting abuse? How can this be allowed to continue?

  • Mr.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Anyone who reads this forum would agree that some people can not read nor comprehend what is written in front of their eyes.

  • Calhoun
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    What sign?

  • Typhoid Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Jim Smith and Mr. Poindexter its probably not that they cant read, its more likely they think it doesnt apply to them, that they are an exception, special or priviledged like most of us do. We dont have to take this advice, obey or even read it. The world revolves around us. There is no one else that matters only me me me me and me.

    Oh, that is here in Newfoundland ? Sorry, you are right, they cant read.

  • Matt
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    I'll bet Nate and Bones always drive under the speed limit, too, like the responsible citizens they are.

    Sure.

  • S'okay
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    That's s'okay. The Council in CBS sees fit to put ice on the stadium in Kelligrews so a few people can play curling. This in the middle of a water ban. Must be LOTS of recycled dirty bathwater in that stadium, if the Council is playing by THEIR OWN RULES.
    Municipalities are coming to piece, people.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Bones: had you read the sign in the photo correctly, you might have noticed that it said the public are (sic.) advised... not prohibited by law. She cannot be charged on those grounds. That being said, I agree that some people can't read what is printed in front of them.

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    To read or not read is the question. To see and be around your toilet bowl is another thing. I wonder if those that think the sing is proper and should only act as advise are willing to foot the medical bills for those that could be infected with everything that the sewers have to offer?

    Face it, the sign tells people to stay away. They have failed to read or properly comprehend what is clearly in front of them, well behind that one after clearly walking right past it. People like her and the others that spent time around this slop need to be held responsible should medical assistance be required for the stupidity to adhere to the warning. In the future I would think that it should no longer be a warning, rather an order to clarify things for those that can not get the message.

    Maybe a skull and cross bones for bones to get it's jollies from will be needed.

    Do you need to see Blinky walking up onto the rocks before people will get the message that we have destroyed our nature surroundings?