Raw sewage, toxic runoff poisoning Ontario's lakes and rivers

Nov 13 2018, 5:58 pm

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario says the provincial government is allowing harmful, raw sewage to overflow in lakes and rivers at an alarming rate.

Dianne Saxe, the province’s Environmental Commissioner, released her annual report “Back to Basics” today, which outlines how Ontario’s waters are being poisoned by raw sewage and harmful runoff laden with fertilizer and road salt.

“It is unbelievable that in 2018, the government allows this much filth into our lakes and rivers,” said Saxe.

“These are the places Ontarians spend time with their families, where they swim and fish. These shorelines and waters are home to Ontario’s rich biodiversity, and to us.”

The report says during 2017 and 2018, raw sewage overflowed into southern Ontario waters 1,327 times from nearly 60 outdated municipal sewer systems that combine sewage with stormwater.

Saxe says provincial standards on toxic waste poured into Ontario waterways haven’t been updated in 25 years and are “likely outdated.”

To improve this growing problem, one of Saxe’s recommendations includes Ontario must require all municipalities with combined sewers to eliminate overflows using measures like additional stormwater fees and building additional infrastructure to keep from flooding combined sewers.

“Small changes can better protect Ontario’s water, wetlands, woodlands and wildlife,” concluded Saxe. “My report offers sensible solutions. Many cost relatively little and would yield big rewards.”

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