8 northeastern Ontario communities called out for outdated sewer systems

Eight municipalities in northeastern Ontario have outdated sewer systems, causing raw sewage to flow into local waters, according to the province’s environment watchdog.

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner releases new report

A newly released report says Ontario is allowing raw sewage to overflow into lakes and rivers at an alarming rate. (Swim Drink Fish Canada)

Eight municipalities in northeastern Ontario have outdated sewer systems, causing raw sewage to flow into local waters, according to the province's environment watchdog.

Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe released her report entitled Back to Basics on Tuesday.

The report includes information on water pollution and drinking water, wildlife disease and monitoring, the loss of forests and wetlands in southern Ontario and ministry report cards on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights.

The report listed 44 municipalities across Ontario with outdated systems, including eight communities in northeastern Ontario. Those communities including Black River-Matheson, Callander, Cobalt, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Moonbeam, Temiskaming Shores and West Nipissing.

"It is unbelievable that in 2018, the government allows this much filth into our lakes and rivers," Saxe said.

"There are the places where Ontarians spend time with their families, where they swim and fish. These shorelines and waters are home to Ontario's rich biodiversity and to us."

Dianne Saxe is Ontario's Environmental Commissioner. (CBC)

Saxe says it has to do with combined sewer systems, which carry both sanitary sewage plus storm water. In her report, she says many combined sewer systems date from the 1940s or earlier.

"Since 1985, Ontario has prohibited any municipalities from installing new combined sewers; however, there are still … combined sewer systems in 44 municipalities," the report states.

Saxe is calling on the government to commit to funding the source water protection program.

She also points out that algae programs in waterways throughout Ontario are worsening.

"In August of 2018, Ramsey Lake in Sudbury experienced the largest algal bloom in a decade," she said.

"Reports of cyanobacteria blooms, which have the potential to produce toxins that can impact human health, are increasing."

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