Good news for the southwestern shores of Lake Ontario may be coming.
This week the Hamilton Spectator reported Hamilton City Council has requested city staff provide transparency to its residents, within 24-hours of sewage overflows in the harbour and surrounding creeks.
With the City of Hamilton stating they will alert the public of "Any Discharges of Untreated or Partially Treated Sewage" this evidently includes combined sewer overflows (CSOs). According to Wastewater System Effluent Regulation (WSER) reports, 1279 overflows occurred, totalling 6,440,739.0 cubic metres of untreated sewage being released into the Hamilton Harbour and surrounding waterways from 27 combined sewer outfall locations in 2017. Unlike bypasses, which receive partial treatment, a CSO is completely raw untreated sewage which includes feces, urine, blood, mucus, vomit and other such things that get flushed down the toilet. Alerting the public of a CSO is as equally important as alerting them when a bypass occurs.
This request comes almost two months after the Ontario Government’s, A Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan, vowed to “increase transparency through real-time monitoring of sewage overflows from municipal wastewater systems into Ontario’s lakes and rivers.” Hamilton City Council’s response to this is a progressive step - initially met with resistance from some municipalities - in the right direction of creating a swimmable, drinkable and fishable future for Lake Ontario.
That same Environment Plan recognized Utilities Kingston and the City of Kingston’s work in implementing real-time monitoring as the catalyst in the creation of the Gord Edgar Downie Pier, an example of connecting people to water through a collaboration of community, government and private funding.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will be submitting public comment on the province’s Environment Plan next week. You can have your say about the plan here.
The recent news about the province’s decision to reverse a portion of Bill 66 - known as schedule 10 - is an excellent example of what can happen when the public speaks up for what it wants to protect.