PACT POW Declares Efforts a Success despite Regions deftness

First off, PACT POW (Pickering Ajax Citizens Together – Protecting Our Water) WANTS TO SEND OUT A BIG THANK YOU to all the people who came out on Wednesday October 30th to the Public Information Forum (PIF) for the last public event regarding the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Duffins Creek Water Pollution Control Plant or Sewage Plant as we all call it. OVER 200 came out and WE APPRECIATE THAT SUPPORT. Without that kind of support, there is no point to our work.

So, on that evening, PACT POW along with over 200 Residents of Ajax and Durham Region listened to York and Durham Regions choice alternative of dilution as the solution,   to accommodate future increased volumes of treated sewage into Lake Ontario.  The decision on the alternative was part of an Environmental Assessment of the Outfall pipe at the Duffins Sewage Treatment Plant  to ensure the plant complies with Provincial regulations, regulations that are over 20 yrs. old.

Of the five alternatives reviewed by the Regions’ the cheapest, least effective alternative in addressing excess phosphorus in Lake Ontario was chosen. Phosphorus feeds algae growth along the shoreline and the putrid smell of rotting algae makes the waterfront an unpleasant place for residents to pursue their favourite leisure activities while compromising the quality of our lake water.

Residents’ personal stories spoke to lost pleasures in their own yards and on the waterfront.  With the increasing number of days with the horrendous smell of rotting algae many are now forced to close their windows and run their air conditioners to shut out the smell. It’s clear to many residents that the increased algae problems parallel the increased amount of discharge from the plant into the lake.

Residents questioned why the Regions chose not to install available technology to reduce phosphorus levels by 30 to 60 times, as is being planned for York’s Sewage Plant at Lake Simcoe.  What’s good for Simcoe is good for Lake Ontario.

Doug Anderson, President of DurhamCLEAR, questioned the financial analysis that lead to the selection of the most expensive tertiary treatment which removes phosphorus, when less costly tertiary treatments exist. The cost ultimately took this alternative out of the running during the Regions’ selection process.  Also challenged was the financial analysis that resulted in the Regions’ statement that tertiary treatment would cost every household in Durham Region an increase of 10-15% of their water bill. The explanation of that analysis was not forthcoming.

The last time PACT challenged Durham Region’s financial analysis, (during the Landfill contract negotiations with Metro Toronto in 1990’s), PACT discovered a $225,000,000.00 loss to the region. That historic error certainly justifies PACT POW’s current requests for full financial disclosure.

After repeated requests from many residents to do the right thing, “be a leader”, “save the Ajax/Pickering waterfront” and , “protect the quality of our water”, the Regions were steadfast in their position that the plant is not responsible for increased levels of phosphorus, therefore the  best solution is to continue discharging treated sewage into the lake.

While Residents received no indications that the Regions would change their choice of alternative, they knew the Regions heard them loud and clear.

This challenge by PACT POW and the Residents to ensure that phosphorus removing technology is incorporated into the Duffin’s  plant is not over. The EA HAS BEEN FILED with  the Ministry of the Environment and now there is a 90 day comment period.  People have the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Bill of Right bulletin board. We are currently working on the website to ensure that process to comment is easy for Residents, so STAY TUNED TO THIS WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Joanne Dies 905-626-1916, PACT POW Co-Chair
Paul Kuebler, 905-686-1820, PACT POW Co-Chair