The VRS clearly recognizes the serious concerns of the SLCSG, however; we urge caution in the City’s approach to mitigating the algae issue. VRS agrees that action must be taken by the City of Sudbury to resolve the long-standing issue of algae blooms once and for all; however, we differ in the recommended approach.
The City of Sudbury recently passed a unanimous Council Motion to implement a Sewage Bypass Alert, whereby the public will be informed in real time when there is a sewage bypass or spill at any of their 13 wastewater treatment facilities. Sewage bypasses are becoming more frequent due to the extreme rain events associated with climate change, and this contaminated freshwater could pose a risk to residents who take their drinking water or swim downstream of these facilities. Ontario Rivers Alliance also made a request to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, in October of 2014, to incorporate this important public safety measure into policy throughout the province. All Sewage Bypass Alerts will be posted on the City of Greater Sudbury website here.
There are numerous Waste Water Treatment Facilities (WWTF) across the province releasing treated, untreated and partially treated effluent into streams and rivers that run through large and small communities that also rely on river water for their public and private drinking water and general household uses. Increasing incidences of extreme rain events are making overflow and bypass of sewage a common and necessary strategy for many WWTF’s in Ontario. ORA understand that in the short-term this is done in order to avoid back-ups into their treatment facilities as well as individual residences; however, in the long-term there must be a province-wide strategy to avoid untreated and partially treated releases of sewage effluent into the environment.
For example, in the Greater City of Sudbury, there are nine wastewater treatment facilities releasing treated, partially treated and untreated effluent into the Vermilion River watershed. On 13 and 14 April, 262,999 m3, and again on 15 May, 59,778 m3, of partially treated sewage was released into the Vermilion River and its connecting lakes. During 2013, 427,235 m3 of partially treated sewage was released through bypass and overflow from one Sudbury facility alone. Many residences rely on the Vermilion River for their drinking water and general household water usage, and public health and safety is placed at risk if untreated and/or partially treated sewage is present in their private water intakes or children and adults are swimming in affected river water. There must be a standardized policy in place that sets out when and how the public is to be alerted when their water supply has been compromised.
ORA is confident that this is not an isolated problem, as very few WWTF were made to handle the extreme rain events that are becoming more and more prevalent with the effects of Climate Change. The cumulative effects of numerous bypass and overflow events on the creeks and rivers feeding the Great Lakes also contribute to the prevalence of Cyanobacteria blooms on area lakes, as well as the Great Lakes.
The City of Kingston has a great model for other municipalities to follow through their Sewage Alert System and on-line Bypass Log which reports bypass and overflow incidents on their website. Facebook and Twitter communications should also be utilized in an effective strategy.
The bottom line is that local downstream residents need to be notified at the earliest possible moment of any potential risk to their water source and/or their health and safety. When an overflow or bypass is reported to the MOECC and local health unit, at the same time the public must also be notified through an alert so that precautions can be taken.
The City of Sudbury is now in the process of implementing this policy; however, we are awaiting a decision by MOECC on whether this policy will be implemented throughout all of Ontario.
There are numerous Waste Water Treatment Facilities (WWTF) across the province releasing treated, untreated and partially treated effluent into streams and rivers that run through large and small communities that also rely on river water for their public and private drinking water and general household uses. Increasing incidences of extreme rain events are making overflow and bypass of sewage a common and necessary strategy for many WWTF’s in Ontario. ORA understand that in the short-term this is done in order to avoid back-ups into their treatment facilities as well as individual residences; however, in the long-term there must be a province-wide strategy to avoid untreated and partially treated releases of sewage effluent into the environment. Continue reading
Ottawa River – Understanding our river
Blue Legacy International, founded and directed by Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous oceanographer, produced 3 short documentaries on the Ottawa River. These films focus on governance, water quality and the impact of dams on biodiversity. The production of these documentaries was made possible through funding from the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation.
The City of Greater Sudbury is proposing to decommission the Lively Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and upgrade the Walden WWTP. Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS) has requested tertiary treatment, which is a third means of effluent treatment, to improve water quality on the lower Junction Creek, Simon Lake, McCharles Lake, and the lower Vermilion River. VRS is making a request to the Minister of Environment to issue a Part II Order to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment. See attached letter.
An Ella Lake resident has just reported that the Blue-green Algae bloom is still persisting. So all local residents, cottagers and fishermen should continue to refrain from drinking, boiling, or using the water for the sauna.
Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, Faculty of Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology has taken a special interest in our winter outbreak, and has offered to examine a sample to determine the strain of blue-green algae present in Ella Lake.
Vermilion River Stewardship and the Beaver Lake Sports and Cultural Club are very concerned about public safety, and have requested signage warning of the blue-green algae to be posted at Ella Lake and Wabagishik Lake boat launches. Continue reading
The Vermilion River had a confirmed Blue-green Algae bloom in February of 2013, and it had persisted since November of 2012. The Vermilion River Watershed has 9 City of Sudbury Waste Water Treatment Facilities releasing treated, untreated and undertreated effluent into its waters. With climate change upon us it is imperative that treatment methods be significantly improved, and that further development be restricted. Our fresh water resources are quickly becoming one of our greatest concerns.
The film below was produced by the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee in partnership with the Essex Region Conservation Authority and the International Joint Commission, this 5 minute video promotes steps we can all take to reduce the problems contributing to blue-green algae.
Author: June 2009 (revised July 2009) Researched and written by Ecojustice Senior Scientist Dr. Elaine MacDonald and Staff Scientist Liat Podolsky with assistance from Communications Director Jode Roberts and Acting Communications Director Kori Brus.
Findings of Investigation
According to information obtained from the province of Ontario there are 107 combined sewer systems in eighty-nine different Ontario communities. In 2006 and 2007 there were 1,544 and 1,243 releases of raw or partially treated sewage reported to the provincial government respectively, although this information does not include all of the sewage treatment plants in Ontario.3
Of the incidents reported (see Table 1 below), we broke the data down according to ones reported to be caused by wet weather as well as incidents that included CSOs and bypasses.
A review of the reports indicates that if a sewage collection system is overflowing at several locations, each location may be counted as a separate incident. In most cases the duration of the bypass or overflow was unknown, but for the incidents in which the duration was provided, they varied from less than one hour to several days. The average length of incidents that were recorded was seven hours in 2007.
Sewage releases 2006 – 2007
Total reported sewage releases 1,544 1,243
Total releases reported to be due to wet weather 1,256 849
Releases reported to include combined sewer overflows 376 701
Releases that included bypasses 1,061 1,089 Continue reading