County not consulting real experts on roadside pesticide spraying

Posted on: March 12, 2018

Myrna Lee,
Chair, Lanark Fights Lyme

After assurances that she has no influence in this matter, Dr. Paula Stewart has once again weighed in on the contentious roadside spraying program in Lanark County. And after repeatedly denying that chemicals would enter our wells – or indeed, any of our watersheds, she gently dropped a bombshell at the last Mississippi Mills township meeting. She stated that if Clearview (the poison selected for Lanark) did get into wells, it “would only be a tiny, tiny bit.”

It boggles the mind that anyone with even a tiny, tiny bit of understanding of herbicide management would use such a phrase. What is a “tiny, tiny bit” ? Is it a modicum? Minuscule? Petite? Teensy?

I know that a tiny, tiny bit of peanut will kill my niece and a tiny, tiny bit of bee sting venom sends my cousin into anaphylactic shock. I know that a tiny, tiny bit of radiation kills healthy cells. What does a tiny, tiny bit of Clearview/Truvist do to the trusting people of Lanark County? The communication that I received from a local hydrogeologist (i.e. expert in the study of watersheds) was succinct: “The amount of herbicide or pesticide that is acceptable in a domestic water supply is zero. Dr. Stewart does not know this.”

At a Lanark Council meeting last year, Dr. Stewart said that the poison would be dry in a few minutes and then be gone forever. Now we find a chance (a good one? a fair one? an off chance?) that that statement was careless and uninformed.

Does this mean that when they are spraying our ditches along Elm Grove Road, some might get into my ditch and/or well and my neighbours’ wells? Will those tiny bits accumulate and flow into our precious lake that we pay extra taxes to live on? Will the accumulated amount kill the fish, the birds, the turtles, and the snakes that depend on us to keep poison out of the watershed?

The Clearview literature is quite clear – the two main ingredients are “persistent in water and harmful to aquatic life.” This alone should have sent Dr. Stewart rushing to demand a moratorium on roadside spraying until there are thorough studies of the ramifications.

If Dr. Stewart is being consulted as an expert, she must ensure that she gets the expertise before she speaks. If, as she says, she is not an expert, then her name should be removed as endorsing spraying. The County should consult the appropriate experts, researchers, scientists, environmental experts, etc. who can answer the questions of what a tiny, tiny bit of this poison will do to us and the environment we are spending millions of tax dollars to protect. And if the ridiculous happens and we continue to spray poison on our public land, then we need to have pre-spray studies and post-spray studies to assess the damage in quantifiable terms of what a “tiny, tiny bit” of poison does so we can fight the ensuing lawsuits.

This article was first published in the March 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our March 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.

4 thoughts on “County not consulting real experts on roadside pesticide spraying

  1. Scott Sigurdson

    The research submitted by Dow Chemical back in 80’s when one of the Clearview ingredients metsufylron-methyl was going through regulatory approval clearly ststed that in clay soils it has a half life of 178 days, that means in 178 half of it is still around, and 178 days later half that amount is still around etc etc etc. It can take up to 2 years to fully degrade.

    Furthermore the submitted research also clearly states that it is very soluble in water, meaning it has a high likelihood of traveling and eventually contaminating our groundwater. Its not a question of if, its a question of how long will it take.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *