Technoparc drought – Marsh dried up during record rainfall – Is something fishy?
Environmentalists say something is fishy in the Technoparc area of St. Laurent. They claim management at Technoparc is deliberately draining a marsh to kill fish and drive birds away from an area with perhaps the greatest biodiversity on Montreal Island, all this to facilitate construction.
“No proper environmental inventory was ever done here,” says Joel Coutu, an eminent birder. He notes that proper environmental inventories need to be done in springtime when birds and flowers are in full evidence. Instead, a flawed study was done in the fall, and it categorized the area as being “of little ecological importance.”
“Amateur bird watchers have since established that Technoparc—with 182 species of birds observed—is the second-best spot for bird watching in Quebec. There are endangered species–such as the Least Bittern–nesting here, many attracted by the presence of fish. Until last year, the borough mayor of St. Laurent also claimed that there were no fish here until we published photos of herons with fish in their beaks.”
In 2016, environmentalists tried to invoke an injunction to prevent a $5 million road extension into the marshes and almost won. Over the winter, a dyke was built through the marsh area, fragmenting it. In June, 2017, the southern portion of the marsh dried up.
“In building the dyke, untold numbers of overwintering fish were buried alive. Once spring arrived, other overwintering fish died when they had no water. And the new exit culvert off etang aux herons would probably have sucked out any small fish swimming near it,” charges Coutu.
Technoparc management counters in their online newsletter that low water levels are “normal”: “Because the water supply is not constant, and there is an increase of the evapotranspiration and percolation of the water,” This same area is also referred to as “le Petit marais Hubert Reeves.”
“This year le Petit marais Hubert Reeves dried up in June during a year of record rainfall without any extended heat wave and well before the nesting birds were able to complete the raising of their young,” retorts Coutu. “There was absolutely nothing normal or natural about what happened here. It had everything to do with the fragmentation caused by construction of the new dyke and new road.” Coutu notes that this same marsh stayed wet through a prolonged drought in 2016.
“We also have a video recorded in April 2017 of water leaving this general area at an estimated rate of 2,800,000 litres per day. That is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
Again, a very different story emerges from the Technoparc newsletter: “Although there may be false rumors that water is being pumped by some equipment, none was never used to pump/drain water, either by Technoparc Montreal, the Borough of Saint-Laurent, or by the City of Montreal or any other contractors engaged by them.”
Coutu and others invite the public to come and see the astonishing biodiversity for themselves on Sunday, August 27, when a bilingual guided walk through the Technoparc area starts at 8 am. More info at “Grosse journée d’observation d’oiseaux / Technoparc Mtl.”
Feature image: Bird watcher Joel Coutu wonders where the water went from this marsh. It dried up in June during a year of record rainfall