Click here for Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 sample results.
Last night’s heavy rainfall caused a significant sewage spill in Toronto’s Inner Harbour. To reduce exposure to bacteria and waterborne illnesses, Toronto waterfront users should avoid contact with the water for at least 48 hours.
According to TRCA data, Toronto received approximately 69.7mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. With more rainfall predicted today, Toronto will be close to its average August precipitation after only two days.
This heavy rainfall overwhelmed Toronto’s infrastructure, causing sewage to spill across the Inner Harbour.
Sewage poses a serious health and environmental risk. Boaters, paddlers and sailors using the Inner Harbour can be exposed to elevated bacteria levels when sewage is present. While recreational water users can choose to avoid the water, local bird and fish species living in the Inner Harbour are directly exposed to sewage, which also includes chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants.
Waterkeeper’s sampling team collected water samples at three Inner Harbour locations - Marina Four, Rees Street Slip and Bathurst Quay. Elise Mackie, Toronto Community Monitoring Coordinator, noted a strong sewage odour at all three sites and countless condoms, tampon applicators and sanitary pads. These “floatables” are items commonly flushed down the toilet and their presence indicates a sewage spill.
While thousands of people use Toronto’s waterfront daily, Waterkeeper remains the only group providing Inner Harbour water quality data. Learn more about our Toronto Harbour Monitoring Program history here. Waterkeeper’s sampling team will post its results to Swim Guide tomorrow afternoon (August 9, 2018). Use the Swim Guide app to stay updated.
After visiting the Toronto Inner Harbour this morning, Mark Mattson, President and Waterkeeper, reported the spill to Ontario’s Spill Action Centre, triggering a provincial reporting process.
If you plan to visit the waterfront this week, you may wish to avoid contact with water on the city-side of the Harbour. If you do come in contact with the water, we recommend washing skin and clothing immediately afterward. If you contract an illness or rash after contact with the lake, we recommend reporting it to Toronto Public Health.
Please help document this sewage spill by sharing your photos of Toronto’s Inner Harbour on Twitter and tagging @LOWaterkeeper.