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Sewage waste is being released directly into the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal, following heavy rainfalls because the Canadian city's sewage waste mixes with rainwater during rain storms, according to the French-language radio service of CBC News.
Montreal city officials have been exploring the possibility of creating more beaches on its territory, but data collected near one of the proposed sites shows that levels of coliform bacteria can be as much as 20 times higher than the acceptable levels for swimming.
"After or during big rainfall, stay away from the water because there is a risk of contamination. Wait 24 hours for the currents to wash away the pollutants," said Chantal Rouleau, Montreal's executive committee member responsible for water and water infrastructure.
CBC reported that the sewage waste is eventually washed away by the current of the river, but people who use the it for swimming or other sport complain that until then there is no system to warn them about the water quality.
"If I fell into the water here, or if I swallowed a cup of water, the chances that I would not get gastro would be very low," said Daniel Green, an environmental activist and co-founder of the group Société pour Vaincrela Pollution.
Rouleau said that the Monteral city officials are working on a long-term solution for the problems and that the city plans to build reservoirs to store water during rainfalls, so it can be treated rather than released directly into the river.
The Saint Lawrence River flows from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.