Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on October 5, 2010 (updated: March 29, 2017)

Flushing Out the Truth on Sewage

Dr. Elaine MacDonaldScientist

Today, we released Flushing Out the Truth, our latest report highlighting the tens of billions of litres of untreated sewage that are knowingly allowed to flow into Ontario waterways each year because of the province’s inadequate sewage system.

Much of the untreated waste made its way into water bodies through sewage bypasses — diversions which carry excess sewage to lakes or rivers when treatment plants are over capacity or have technical problems.

Added to that are combined sewage overflows, which occur in older systems where stormwater and sewage from sinks, toilets and drains gush along the same pipe. Bad weather can cause the pipes to overflow into a lake or river.

It’s the wastewater equivalent of fixing gridlock by letting cars drive on sidewalks.

Rather than allowing sewage to overflow and be diverted before proper treatment, Ecojustice has been calling on governments to ensure systems can handle the capacity they need to – by mitigating combined sewage systems and investing in green infrastructure that reduces the amount of storm water entering the system in the first place.

The report also singled out Ontario’s worst offenders, with the following cities all dumping more than a billion litres of sewage during the 2006-7 period: Hamilton (5 billion); Windsor (4.3 billion); Welland (3.9); Toronto (2.7 billion); Sudbury/Greater Sudbury (2.6 billion); London (1.8 billion); and Leamington (1 billion).

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