Sourced from On-Site Magazine
Raw sewage has been overflowing into Ontario’s lakes and rivers at an alarming rate and the government is doing little to stop it, the province’s environmental watchdog said Nov. 13 as she laid out broad changes required to help keep waterways clean.
Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe outlined her concerns and recommendations in an annual report — called Back to Basics — that looked at the state of the province’s waterways between April 2017 and March this year.
During that time, the report found that raw sewage overflowed into southern Ontario waterways 1,327 times. More than half of those overflows — 766 — were from nearly 60 outdated municipal sewer systems that combine sewage and stormwater.
“Despite closed beaches and decades of concern the government has still not required these municipalities to do everything reasonable to stop their overflows,” Saxe said.
Saxe’s report explained that sewer overflows are often caused during heavy rains — when excessive stormwater has nowhere to escape, it funnels into sewers causing them overflow and spill untreated contents into lakes or rivers.
The province’s waterways were also being affected by run-off laden with fertilizer and road salt, she said.
While the province has the regulatory power to penalize municipalities for the overflows, Saxe said the government has turned a blind eye to the issue.