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

Sewage Report Stirs Controversy

Kimberly Shearon headshotKimberly ShearonStaff

The release of Flushing out the Truth made significant waves throughout the individual municipalities named in the report. Windsor, Sudbury, and Welland — three of the cities singled out for releasing 1 billion litres of sewage or more — all ran local stories highlighting our findings and the need for significant changes to waste water management in order to keep untreated sewage out of Ontario’s Waterways. Toronto and Hamilton also covered the report extensively.

But you can’t please everyone.

In one instance the numbers of our report were questioned – by Betty Matthews-Malone, Director of Water & Wastewater Services for the Niagara Region. Niagara Falls was the province’s worst offender with over 7 billion litres of sewage releases for the period reported on, and Ms. Matthews-Malone claims that the sewage dumping numbers published for Niagara Falls in our report “far exceeded the region’s data”.

To her credit, the importance of the issue is fully acknowledged in the Niagara Region’s press release. However, it’s worth noting that figures in our report were obtained from the Provincial Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry in turn collects those figures from reports by local municipalities, including Niagara Falls.

We can verify that our figures are fully inline with the information obtained from the province, however, there is a more important issue at stake. The fact that numbers provided by the province, that were collected from municipalities, are now being questioned by a regional director only lends support to one of our key recommendations – that cities and sewage treatment systems should report all releases of inadequately treated sewage to the public as they occur, so that the public can take steps to ensure their health is protected from exposure to sewage contaminated water.

If this was the case there would be no need to debate the figures, and our water would be receiving the care and attention it deserves.

By Kori Brus

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