I never dreamed living on Wolfe Island on the water that I would have to give my five-year-old a talking to about not picking up syringes off the shore.
-- Colin Mosier, Island resident
It's spring and that means the City of Kingston is dumping raw sewage into Lake Ontario again. The annual dumps are as common in Kingston as the return of migrating birds, it seems, with more than a billion litres dumped in the past five years alone. Every year, Kingston talks about improvements to the system and notes that there is no significant impact on the environment. Something is different about this year's dump.
Last Monday, Colin Mosier was walking the shoreline near his home on Wolfe Island, one of the Thousand Islands directly downstream from Kingston. Colin is an active Waterkeeper supporter and knew that the condoms, tampon applicators and needles he saw floating in the St. Lawrence River and covering the beach were signs of sewage. He also knew he had to act right away. Colin took pictures, sampled his water and called the Ministry of Environment, Waterkeeper and the press. The next day (Tuesday), the City of Kingston issued a press release admitting it had dumped sewage on Sunday and Monday. Colin's quick work in documenting the steady stream of debris in the river and along the shore was the smoking gun the public needed to prove Kingston is wrong: dumping sewage has a real environmental impact.
Colin's story made front-page news in Kingston, prompted the province to investigate, and forced the city to send clean-up crews to the site.
Two issues remain outstanding:
1) Who will hold the city accountable for dumping raw sewage with no notice to downstream residents, no monitoring to ensure no environmental impact, and no automatic clean-up measures in place?
2) Who will ensure that these three measures (notice, monitoring, cleanup) are taken every time a bypass occurs in the future?
See next week's Waterkeeper.ca Weekly for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper's response.