Toronto sewage and storm water overflows regularly into Lake Ontario

TORONTO – While the city of Montreal begins dumping eight billion litres of wastewater into the St. Lawrence River, officials in Toronto are planning to start advising the public about regular overflows into Lake Ontario.

With nearly every major rainfall, Toronto’s infrastructure reaches capacity and the city’s wastewater treatment plants are often bypassed as a result.

READ MORE: Why is Montreal dumping 8 billion litres of sewage into the St. Lawrence?

Untreated sewage and storm water are then sent into rivers and the waterfront through “combined sewer” overflows, according to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.

“The shoreline water in Toronto is very much a danger zone,” the organization’s president Mark Mattson said.

“There’s a lot of storm water and sewage that gets mixed into our harbours and our river mouths.”

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Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change recently passed legislation requiring the City of Toronto to provide advisories when water quality is at risk due to wet weather.

“We have many laws that prevent storm water and sewage from going into our drinking water and fisheries,” Mattson said. “Cities have always seemed like they’re a little bit above the law.”

READ MORE: This is what 8 billion litres of raw sewage would look like

During heavy rainstorms on October 28 and 29 in Toronto, the Ashbridges Bay treatment plant was bypassed for more than 15 hours.

“I think if there’s something that Toronto can learn,” Mattson said.

“All the cities and Canadians can learn from what’s going on in Montreal is people just care about this issue.”

There is no indication at this point when the advisories from Toronto will start.

The operation involving eight billion litres of untreated waste being dumped in Montreal is expected to take place over seven days.

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