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Kid Puts Halt on Illegal Raw Sewage Flowing Into River

Where adults and governments fail stalwart younger generations lead the way. An 11-year-old with a love for science proved to be the driving force behind the halting of raw sewage from flowing into Nova Scotia’s LaHave River.

Stella Bowles lives in a home bordering the LaHave River on the south shore of Nova Scotia, and has always wanted to swim in its inviting waters. Her mother, however, has always forbid her from swimming in the water due to health concerns. Stella decided to take matters into her own hands and test the water for contamination.

Her idea to conduct water tests on samples from the LaHave River came after her mother informed Stella that many homes in their area use illegal “straight pipes,” which funnel toilet waste directly into waterways without any filtration or treatment whatsoever. Stella Bowles had many questions, including: how is this allowed? And how many homes are pumping feces into the river?

Stella collected and analyzed many water samples from the river and found that the level of fecal contamination was well above Canada’s federal guidelines for swimming and boating. These results compelled her and her family to spread the word about the fecal levels in the river.

After discovering that the river was contaminated with fecal matter Stella erected a large sign by the nearby wharf that read “THIS RIVER IS CONTAMINATED WITH FECAL BACTERIA.” Her family set up a public Facebook page warning community members about the contamination and the page sparked outrage and conversation on social media.

David Maxwell, a retired physician, taught Stella Bowles how to test the water for bacteria. He had previously conducted water tests on the river for two years and sent his results to the government, but no substantial action was taken. Though Maxwell was ignored, Stella thinks her age convinced the government to take action.

“I think the fact that I was an 11-year-old kid saying, ‘This is wrong’—I was kind of shaming the adults, saying, ‘Are you serious? Aren’t you supposed to be taking care of our community?’ — it kind of pushed them into a corner,” noted Stella in an interview with CityLab.

For her project covering the river contamination Stella was a silver medal in a Canada-wide science fair, and placed first in her age group at the Action for Nature’s 2018 International Eco-Hero Youth Awards. In the summer of 2017, at the age of 14, Bowles helped convince the Canadian government to put an end to the illegal dumping of raw sewage into the LaHave River.

The local authorities estimated that at least 600 homes were pumping sewage directly into the river using a straight pipe. The municipal government has agreed to replace all straight pipes with septic tanks by 2023 at the cost of approximately $15 million (Canadian). All homes within the affected district are now required to prove that they do not use a straight pipe.

You may not be swimming in sewage but you can take the proper steps to protect your family from bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms that thrive in fecal-contaminated waters. If you suspect any kind of water contamination order a testing kit today to take control of your water quality.

The best guard against bacteria is the Whole House Filter with UV Protection that destroys 99.9% of bacteria and inhibits bacterial growth. With this system installed you’ll never have to worry about giardia, cryptosporidium, E. coli, and other harmful microorganisms and pathogens.