Toronto has been playing a filthy game of literal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ with its residents: We didn’t ask if there was human feces in Lake Ontario, so we weren’t told about it.
Well, thankfully, that’s about to change.
The Ministry of the Environment has ordered the City of Toronto to advise people when it bypasses water treatment plants and sends raw sewage into the lake from now on.
“I think there’s a real demand for this information,” says Mark Mattson, founder of non-profit Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. “The ability to get the information at their fingertips before they go out would be really user friendly.”
That’s one hell of a way to say we should have an app to let us know whether or not pieces of sh*t will be a part of today’s beach forecast.
Toronto currently sends sewage straight into its waterways around three times per month when rain overwhelms the city’s terribly outdated sewer system. More than a billion litres of sewage and storm water flowed lake-bound during a two-hour downpour in 2013 when parts of the city flooded.
The Ministry of Environment is currently pondering a province-wide approach to informing the public of these sewage flows. We weren’t joking about an app, by the way – Sewr? Shitr? E-cooli?
Ottawa currently reports treatment plant bypasses on a voluntary basis, which is nice of them; Kingston has been doing it for years, while Niagara Falls and London are “considering it.”
“It’s a growing trend and it’s an important trend,” says Mattson, which is again a peculiar way to talk about something that should have been a public service since we last dealt with the plague.
Various agencies will be consulted before the government makes a decision about how to best implement this vital matter of public hygiene… so maybe stay out of the water until then.