Toronto has one of the busiest waterfronts in North America. On any given day throughout the year, the shores along Lake Ontario that surround our city are filled with swimmers, boaters, surfers, and paddlers.
Toronto is also known for being one of Canada’s biggest sewage polluters. Compare the former against the latter. You can see we have a problem.
Only a small fraction of Toronto’s waterfront is monitored for water quality. In fact, 97% of Toronto’s waterfront and 100% of Toronto’s harbour is not monitored at all. No government testing means no water quality information. This gets tricky because water quality is like the weather – it’s always changing.
For many days the lake is perfectly safe to be in. On other days, especially after heavy rains, the story changes. Sewage and dirty stormwater can flow into Toronto’s harbour from pipes, roads, and nearby rivers. This polluted water may have bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and microplastics that make the water unsafe for days afterwards.
This year 36,000 Ontarians will develop a rash or get sick after swimming in polluted water. Let that sink in for a moment. This means that the water we depend on for recreational use and our survival is making us sick. At Lake Ontario Waterkeeper we know this is not okay.
We believe that everyone has the right to safely swim, drink, and fish in their homewaters. This water should be free from pollution. If it’s not, you have a right to know!
This summer Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has a plan, but we’ll need your help. Yesterday we launched our first ever crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. We called it our Swimmable Lake Ontario campaign.
Through this campaign the Waterkeeper team will bring our boat, the Angus Bruce, to Toronto. We will sample 25 of the most popular recreation zones along the waterfront. We’ll share the results of this sampling with you so that Toronto can finally know if the water quality in our beautiful harbour meets government standards.
But before we can get to work, the Angus Bruce needs a few repairs; primarily a new roof to keep the rain out so we can sample when pollution is at its worst. After the cost of repairs, we will need to cover fuel and lab testing. The total cost amounts to $5000.00
If your interest has been piqued and you want to find out more, visit our Indiegogo page to hear our Vice President, Krystyn explain the issue and to read more about our water monitoring plan.
At this point, it’s important to note that this campaign is about so much more than simply raising funds. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an important part of making sure we can actually complete our water sampling and share the results.
But the Swimmable Lake Ontario campaign is also about getting this city more connected to, and with, the great Lake Ontario.
With your support we hope to develop a community of engaged Torontonians who care about the health of their lake. And in turn, protect the health of the thousands of people who rely on it.