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Great Lakes Article:

Beaches clean up could cost $1 billion
Twenty-five year plan could be paid by water bills
Andrew Matte
Toronto Town Crier

A stunning new report from City Hall calls for a whopping $1 billion in new money to pay for a clean up of Toronto’s beaches over the next 25 years.

A report to Toronto’s works committee says the bill could be paid by boosting residential water rates by between $30 and $90 if council rubber stamps a scheme that would see a myriad of work to be completed. A current average water bill is about $300 per year.

The mandate of the work would include a bid to keep pollution out of the city’s busy beaches and reduce the amount of E-coli in city streams and rivers.

The report calls for a better way to handle the city’s regular water runoff and storm sewer levels, which are now responsible for overflowing, forcing the system to allow untreated effluent into Lake Ontario.

As part of the installation of a series of new underground infrastructure, the report calls for a further $228 for maintenance and operational costs.

However, there are others who believe the city could slash in half the amount it would need by simply installing new water runoff tanks.

Two in the Beach area regularly collect and store storm sewer water on days where water flow is heavy, and then send it to the Ashbridge’s Bay plant during slower times.

Beaches–East York Councillor Sandra Bussin (Ward 32) points to a report that found that the installation of the two tanks in her area were responsible for improving the water quality at area beaches.

"We definitely need to move ahead with solutions," Bussin said.

"We have shown that these retention tanks work."

For instance, a tank near MacLean Ave. works at double capacity — and along with the second tank, both of which were installed in the early 1990s, were responsible for helping to keep eastern beaches open for 80 per cent of the time.

However, the flows have become greater in recent years and E-coli amounts are regularly higher than levels allowed by the province. Also, there are four separate main effluent pipes that are known to be responsible for expelling raw and untreated water into the lake near Ashbridge’s Bay.

For years, residents, politicians and environmental groups have been working hard to lobby for funding to upgrade the system with hopes of reducing E-coli levels in the summer.

Even though the waters near Ashbridge’s Bay aren’t technically a beach, it does pose a health hazzard because they're used by so many recreational groups who use the water for swimming, boating and other water sports.

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