Why the Regions will not wait for REAL DATA on Phosphorus Source?

Paul Kuebler – paulkuebler@rogers.com

Regions of York and Durham need to delay the Environmental Assessment, until the major source of phosphorus (feeding algae on the waterfront) has been identified. There is lots of time, because the Regions own data shows the upgrade alternative is not NEEDED it till 2025 and beyond!


The Regions of York and Durham are in the midst of an Environmental Assessment to identify alternatives for addressing the MOE’s concern with the “Outfall” from the Duffin’s Creek Sewage Plant. The EA is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

This plant is allowed to discharge up to 311 kilograms of phosphorus into Lake Ontario every day. Two studies have been completed to date on finding out what is the source of phosphorus that is feeding the rampant growth of algae along the waterfront. These studies had found completely different results. One says the plant is not the source, and the other study says it is the major source of the phosphorus (95% cause).

Now before I would go and spend $2 million of taxpayers hard earned money on the CURRENT preferred solution of dilution (which does nothing for the phosphorus level), I would want to find out which study is correct, and until such time, I would PAUSE.

Both Regions of York and Durham have been asked by some SAC (Stakeholder Advisory Committee – for the Outfall EA) members and asked by the Town of Ajax to pause the EA, until a follow-up study can be completed to identify the major source of the phosphorus. If it is the plant, that would take the EA in a different direction, requiring not a solution of dilution, but requiring additional equipment to actually reduce the phosphorus down to levels that would help reduce algae growth. BY THE WAY, THE TECHOLOGY EXISTS, York Region are considering it for Lake Simcoe, for the sewage from northern municipalities of York Region.

So, far the Regions have refused to pause, saying they know that the plant is not the major source of algae. BUT THEY HAVE NO DATA to prove it. When asked in the Public Information Forum in Ajax earlier this year, the Project Managers (under pressure from the audience) admitted they DO NOT know what the major source is.

The solution to the problem regarding the “Outfall” does not need to be installed and operational until at least 2025.

So, what is the rush? COULD IT BE THAT since Canada has signed an International Agreement limiting phosphorus from Sewage Plants, and that this agreement would cause Ontario to legislate new regulations? BUT if the plant can get the EA done before these regulations come into effect, they maybe grandfathered avoiding the additional costs of installing the RIGHT equipment to reduce phosphorus????