We are just two months into the year 2010 and the City of Kingston has dumped the equivalent of 58 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sewage into Lake Ontario. The City has bypassed 29,526 m 3 from pumping stations (that's about 11 pools, if you're keeping track) and 118,747 m 3 from combined sewer outfalls (47 pools).
We do know that other cities with combined sewer systems have struggled to keep up with the unusually mild and wet winter. The City of Niagara Falls was one of several that pumped sewage into local waters to prevent backlogs in people's basements during massive January rains.
These ailing, aging sewage systems are just one of the driving forces behind a new regulation from the Canadian Government. The regulation will replace the general prohibition against polluting fish habitat with a very lengthy technical set of rules about what Canadian sewage treatment plant operators can and cannot do.
The new regulation could be good if it maintains the existing rule that no one can harm fish or fish habitat. Our communities will be better of if it goes beyond that general prohibition to provide technical guidance about how sewage treatment plant operators can make sure that bacteria, pharmaceuticals and other sewage by-products do not harm us, the environment, or our access to water.
If the regulation eliminates the prohibition, then the 70-plus pages of dense technical language could be a cover for a devastating rollback to an important environmental law. If the regulation allows sewage treatment plants to continue to pollute with impunity for another generation, then it will also fail our communities.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and other members of Waterkeepers Canada are reviewing the proposal now to see what it means for the future of Canada's waters. For a more in-depth discussion, we encourage you to listen to this week's episode of Living at the Barricades. Mark Mattson and Krystyn Tully talk to Colin Mosier about sewage in Kingston and Fraser Riverkeeper Doug Chapman about his ongoing struggle to clean up Vancouver's sewage.
Listen to Living at the Barricades:
Wet weather means massive amounts of sewage pouring into Lake Ontario. Fraser Riverkeeper still seeks an end to sewage pollution in Vancouver. The feds are forging new rules for wastewater treatment plants in Canada. We talk about Kingston's ongoing sewage problems, prosecutions in Vancouver, and new regulations under the Fisheries Act. Our guests are Colin Mosier and Doug Chapman.
Music in this Show
Rain, Rain, Rain by The Rheostatics
I Can't Stand the Rain by Seal
Kiss the Rain by Billie Myers
Cold Rain by Vangel, from Swim Drink Fish Music