Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Ecojustice report holds officials accountable

TORONTO – The latest sewage report by Ecojustice has revealed a significant reporting error in the information supplied by Niagara Falls to the provincial government, and highlights the need for the immediate public reporting of all sewage dumping incidents.

Niagara Falls and the Ministry of the Environment tracked down the source of the error following the release of Flushing Out the Truth on June 29th. The error occurred when Niagara Falls incorrectly reported the volume of sewage released during a bypass event in September 2007 to the MOE. Ecojustice was corresponding with the MOE as late as May 2009 about the 2007 bypass data but was never informed of the error or provided with corrected data.

“Ecojustice accurately reported the sewage dumping data provided by the Ministry of the Environment,” says Ecojustice Senior Scientist Elaine MacDonald, “That this controversy occurred only after the release of our report highlights the need for officials to make sewage dumping incidents known to the public as soon as they occur, not two years after the fact.”

Flushing Out the Truth is Ecojustice’s latest publication on sewage dumping in Ontario and highlights the volumes of untreated, or undertreated sewage being dumped into waterways by Ontario municipalities through sewage treatment bypasses. The first recommendation listed in the report was that municipalities and sewage treatment system operators should report all releases of inadequately treated sewage to the public as they occur, so the public can take steps to ensure their health and the health of their community are protected from potential exposure to sewage contaminated water.

The original figure reported for Niagara Falls of 6,925,452,000 litres in 2007 has been corrected to 326,278,590 litres.

“Seven billion litres of sewage is a number that should have gained the immediate attention of officials,” says Elaine MacDonald, “The fact that this figure wasn’t corrected by government officials earlier shows the extent to which Ontario’s sewage dumping problem is not being taken seriously.”

Flushing Out the Truth is being revised and will be available online with the updated figures in the coming days.

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