Toronto Bay Holds 5,200 Times Legal Bacteria Levels
July 25, 2002 Page A15
The Globe and Mail
The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy has agreed
to investigate the severe water pollution in Toronto's
Ashbridges Bay after tests showed the popular waterfront
area in Toronto's east end has E-coli levels up to 5,200
times higher than provincial standards.
The decision has delighted environmentalists, who say
contaminants in the bay could pose a health risk to boaters,
children and fishing enthusiasts, as the water appears
to contain high levels of human waste.
"We're pleased to see that the ministry is investigating,
and we hope the investigation will provide a way forward
on cleaning up the problem," Lynda Collins, a lawyer
with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, said.
The group took water tests in the bay last fall, and
found extremely high levels of E-coli contamination. The
tests ruled out birds and other animals as the source
of the bacteria, and pointed to human fecal matter as
the likely culpit.
On behalf of area residents upset by the smelly water,
the fund asked the ministry in late April to launch a
formal investigation into whether the city's nearby sewage-treatment
system is the source of the contamination and is breaking
provincial water-protection rules.
The ministry has written to the residents saying it has
agreed to investigate their complaints.
The area is believed to be heavily contaminated because
many older Toronto neighbourhoods have antiquated combined
sanitary and storm-sewer pipes. When it rains, the city's
sewage-treatment facility at Ashbridges Bay can't handle
the amount of water running off streets and being flushed
down toilets. The excess effluent is dumped with little
treatment into the lake.