We have grave concerns that downstream communities are not being adequately or fairly protected from sewage bypasses in the Kingston area.
-- Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, in a letter to the Ministry of Environment
On April 4, Wolfe Island resident Colin Mosier discovered condoms, tampson, and needles washing ashore. Across the river and upstream, the City of Kingston had just finished dumping 52-million litres of untreated sewage into Lake Ontario.
Within hours, the government, press, and Waterkeeper had been contacted about the spill. Colin, his family, and his and friends documented the pollution and collected water samples from their drinking water supply.
The water samples proved that Colin?s drinking water was contaminated with E. coli. Samples taken after the spill was cleaned up revealed that surface and shore well water was once again clean.
Last week, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper wrote to the Ministry of Environment. Waterkeeper wrote to support the work of the investigations branch, which was assigned to investigate Kingston?s 2-day sewage bypass and the debris washing ashore on Wolfe Island.
Waterkeeper also wrote to request that the City of Kingston be required to protect downstream communities from the effects of future bypasses. Specifically, Waterkeeper argued that Kingston must:
- Notify downstream communities prior to bypassing sewage into waterways.
- Monitor every bypass and publicize the length of the bypass, the quantity of sewage discharged, the direction and size of the plume, the level of contamination present in the bypass (eg, E. coli concentrations), and other similar data.
- Ensure that every waterway is cleaned up after being exposed to a bypass.
The Kingston-Whig Standard wrote extensively about these arguments, Waterkeeper?s rationale, and the City of Kingston?s response on April 13. That article is available on our web site.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will continue to write about Kingston?s sewage scandal in upcoming editions of Waterkeeper.ca Weekly.