The City of Toronto does not issue public alerts when sewage is bypassed from its wastewater treatment plants. In Toronto, the Humber and Ashbridges Bay treatment plants bypass sewage on average 2-3 times a month. When there is rain, bypasses occur more frequently.
Despite the fact that contact with contaminated water can result in illness and infection, the public does not receive notice when sewage has entered the waterways in which they swim, paddle, boat, and fish.
Torontonians are out enjoying the incredible recreational water opportunities our waterfront has to offer. They have the right to know when a bypass occurs so that they can take measures to protect their health.
Until the City of Toronto begins to alert the public when a sewage bypass occurs, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will call the Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment plant for this information and share it on our website.
We call the Humber and Ashbridges Bay wastewater treatment plants every time it rains to check whether there has been a bypass. In the event there has not been a rain event, we call the treatment plants once a week for a check in. We log this information here for the public.
When we call, we try to get as much information about sewage bypasses as possible from the control room. Typically, the treatment plants will tell us whether a bypass has occurred and how long the bypass lasted. On occasion, we are told the volume of sewage bypassed.
Sometimes we can only find out yes or no. There are also days when the information is not made available or the phone is not answered.
In addition to posting bypass information here, we also share bypass alerts on Swim Guide, and on our Toronto Recreational Water Users Group Facebook page.