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Chris Brown took this photo of the Rigaud River behind his home in St-Eugène.

Answers expected soon to Rigaud River fish kill

Officials with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOE) hope to have an answer soon to a large fish kill in the Rigaud River near St-Eugène.

Christopher Brown, who has lived on his waterfront property on the river in St-Eugène for more than 30 years, contacted the ministry’s Action Centre on September 2 – the day after he first noticed a “sewage like” smell emitting from the river. Two days later he spotted the first of a large number of fish that floated to the surface over the next several days.

Representatives from the Ministry of Environment visited the site several times, taking water samples and sending them out for testing. Melissa Forget, Senior Environmental Officer with the MOE said testing results are expected within the next two weeks and officials hope to identify the cause of the issue. She was able to confirm that there was indeed a significant fish kill in the portion of the Rigaud River near Brown’s home.

“I’m waiting for further information so I don’t have anything else to give until we get all the factual information back,” Forget said. “I’m hoping to have a more clear picture next week.”

Brown also contacted the offices of federal Member of Parliament Francis Drouin, as well as Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Amanda Simard. He received a response from Simard’s office, which included the following excerpt:

“Information gathered during the ministry’s site visit indicates that an incident may have first occurred or began on Saturday, August 28, 2021 and continued for several days before it was reported to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Spills Action Centre on September 2, 2021. At this time, a cause of the alleged spill and fish die-off has not been identified. The ministry’s assessment of the cause and extent of the reported incident is ongoing.”

Brown said he and his neighbours are anxious to find out the cause of the smell, darkened water and dead fish in the Rigaud River. On Monday, September 13 – almost two weeks after he first noticed a strange smell on his property – Brown said the situation had not changed, other than the dead fish are no longer visible.

“Any fish that have died have basically sunk to the bottom, so they have disappeared,” Brown said, as he walked with his cellphone down to the water’s edge. “But the smell and the color of the river is the same.”

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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