Montreal has begun dumping eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River.
The work began as planned at 12:01 a.m. today and untreated waste water will continue to flow into the river for about one week while repair work is done on underground infrastructure.
The release of untreated waste water is necessary in order to complete repairs on an aging interceptor tunnel that feeds sewage to a treatment facility as well as to relocate a snow chute.
The city took out full-page advertisements in local newspapers today, signed by Mayor Denis Coderre, explaining that the planned discharge is unfortunate but necessary.
Montreal has called on residents living in sectors where the sewers are discharging directly into the river to refrain from flushing certain items such as diapers, condoms and medications.
In Quebec City, Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau said cities across Quebec must reduce sewage spills but did not set specific goals.
His said his department's data reveals Quebec cities have conducted 45,000 sewage spills in 2013.
Coderre is holding a news conference to update citizens on the discharge later today.
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