Blue-green algae found along Ajax waterfront

AJAX — For years, the Ajax waterfront has been plagued by a form of algae called cladophora.

Now, blue-green algae has been detected and it could be more dangerous than regular algae.

Blue-green algae can release a toxin that can be harmful to humans and animals who swim or drink the water.

Testing by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) found the blue-green algae near Paradise Beach (formerly Pickering Beach).

Laura Freeland, the manager of health protection with Durham Region’s health department, said, “While current test results from the MECP indicate a small amount of blue-green algae in the water at Paradise Beach, we want people to understand that water conditions could change at any time and the health department may not be immediately aware of these changes.

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“Status Quo” at the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant

The Regions of York and Durham have posted their Phosphorus Reduction Action Plan (PRAP) study report for public comment. View the full report here:

The PRAP study report was ordered by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change after receiving 90 Part II Order requests from Ajax and Pickering residents in April 2016.

As part of the PRAP study, the Regions were ordered to investigate treatment options to reduce phosphorus levels entering Lake Ontario from the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant.

PACT POW has reviewed the PRAP study and believes that:

  • The Regions DO NOT address the current algae problem on the shores of Ajax and Pickering
  • The Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant is the point source of phosphorus levels feeding algae
  • The financial statements are inflated

We are waiting for further information from the experts, which will be presented to Ajax Council on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. and live streamed on

Following the meeting, PACT POW will have an update for residents, including opportunities to get involved and submit comments to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change before the February 23 deadline.

PACT POW tells province ignoring Ajax’s algae plague threatens credibility of proposed Great Lakes Protection Act

On September 24, Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW) delivered a strong message to the provincial committee reviewing the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act (Bill 66): “Save the Ajax Waterfront”.

Committee members, including Vice-Chair Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson, heard from PACT POW Chair, Ajax Councillor Joanne Dies on the need for immediate action to address the algae covering the Ajax Waterfront and nearshore.

Further, PACT POW stressed if the province is serious about Bill 66 and protecting the Great Lakes, they must impose a limit on the Duffin Creek Sewage Treatment Plant that will virtually eliminate the release of the soluble reactive phosphorus driving explosive algae growth in Lake Ontario at Ajax.

PACT POW believes that should the Premier and Minister of Environment and Climate Change not address Ajax’s algae issue, they will be in contradiction of their very own Bill 66. Ultimately, saying one thing and doing another.


“PACT POW is 100 percent correct! The province cannot jeopardize the credibility of Bill 66 by ignoring Ajax’s algae infestation. Without strong regulatory action on the Ajax waterfront, I am forced to believe that Bill 66 is only window dressing and the province is not committed to revitalizing our Great Lakes. ”– Mayor Steve Parish, Town of Ajax


“Scientific study conducted along the Ajax-Pickering waterfront has proven that Soluble Reactive Phosphorus (SRP), discharged from the Duffin Creek Sewage Treatment Plant, is the cause of the nuisance algae.”

“We need the province to set a specific target for SRP for the Lake Ontario nearshore waters now, and we need Minister of Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray to apply SRP limits specifically on the Duffin Creek Plant, now, as an immediate, permanent solution to the algae problem, because we have a problem now.”

“Minister Murray has an opportunity to do this immediately, in his response to PACT POW’s Part II Order Request, as well as Requests filed by the TOWN OF AJAX, NGO’s and almost 100 Ajax and Pickering residents regarding York and Durham Regions’ deficient Duffin Creek Sewage Plant Outfall EA and Environmental Study Report.”

“Action on the Ajax Waterfront would send a strong message of support for Bill 66 and the need for strong policies and regulations on nutrient loadings, essential to preventing further degradation of the Ajax shoreline and our future water quality. We need to turn back the tide. MPP Dickson knows the Duffins Plant outfall and explosive algae growth are HUGE ISSUES in our community … He promised during the last election to champion an immediate solution to this problem.”

“To make Bill 66 stronger, the Minister must also monitor and report on SRP concentrations and establish a Phosphorus Reduction Strategy for Lake Ontario’s nearshore waters.”

“Bill 66 is exciting news and a step in the right direction but we have to make sure we implement consistently and that we all – including the Ajax Waterfront – can benefit from this legislation.”

To view live coverage of PACT POW’s presentation to the Standing Committee on General Government, please visit .

PACT POW acknowledges the Town of Ajax for their support of the on-going Save Our Waterfront campaign.


Media Contact:
Rachael Wraith, Town of Ajax, 905-619-2529, ext.3325


New Article – Sammy’s a fish on a mission

July 9, 2015, Ajax News Advertiser: Sammy’s a fish on a mission –Download & read full article.

PACT POW sending S.O.S. video messages to province

Videos demand swift action to save the Ajax waterfront from another algae infestation

The algae is back at the Ajax Waterfront and PACT POW member Sammy the Salmon is frustrated that the issue continues to be ignored. It’s time for the province to step up and show they are serious about the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act and address the algae plaguing the Ajax waterfront.

Starting June 29, PACT POW will release a daily S.O.S. video message on, and directed to Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glenn Murray and Premier Kathleen Wynne calling on them to honour their government’s commitment to fix the problem.

“In 11 days Ajax will welcome 125,000 international guests for the 2015 Pan Am Games. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Ajax to the world. Unfortunately, visitors to our waterfront will be greeted by the stench and sight of rotting algae and that is completely unacceptable.”
– Joanne Dies, Co-Chair of PACT POW and Ajax Councillor for Ward 3

– During the 2014 Provincial Election, MPP Dickson committed to requiring the Regions to undertake a full EA of the Duffin Creek WPCP and implement the best method of stopping the release of phosphorus that feeds algae growth along the Ajax Waterfront by 2017.
– PACT POW also had a private meeting with Premier Wynne during the election, where the Premier committed to taking on the issue.
– The province’s Great Lakes Protection Act can address the Ajax algae issue and would be a clear indicator that the province is truly committed to protecting Lake Ontario.
– 99% of the phosphorus in the Plant’s effluent can be removed, cost effectively, yet there are no plans to do so. Instead, the Regions of York and Durham propose to triple the discharge of phosphorus to Ajax waters.
– York Region implemented technology at Lake Simcoe that reduces phosphorus levels, but won’t consider the same technology for Lake Ontario even though 85% of the sewage is from York Region.
– On June 20, a joint letter was issued to Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by 24 Canadian and American groups calling for action to protect the Great Lakes.
– 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the Duffin Creek WPCP discharges phosphorus* into the Ajax waterfront. This phosphorus makes algae grow.
– The algae destroys fish habitat, keeps children from swimming on the hottest days of the summer, and smells terrible, preventing people from using the beautiful waterfront and trails.
– In 2014, Dr. Auer released the Phosphorus Provenance and Cladophora Growth in Lake Ontario Report, which conclusively links the algae issue plaguing the Ajax Waterfront to the Duffin Creek WPCP.
– The Regions cannot be allowed to make things worse – they should be required by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to make things better.
*Soluble reactive phosphorus or “SRP”.

Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW) is a group of concerned citizens focused on protecting drinking water and recreational use of the waterfront in the Region of Durham.

Sammy the Salmon grew up in the cold, fresh head waters of Duffins Creek. One day, Sammy decided to swim downstream and explore Lake Ontario. Sammy loved the lake and made many new friends, but something was different about his new home. He started to notice slimy, smelly, green algae all over his scales and fins – which made it really hard for him to swim, breath and enjoy the lake with his friends.

One afternoon, Sammy was caught in the algae in shallow water and couldn’t breathe or see where he was going. He knew this wasn’t right, he didn’t want to get hurt again or didn’t want any of his friends to get hurt. Sammy was ready to take action. Sammy joined PACT POW and is on a mission to reduce the algae in Lake Ontario.

The Town of Ajax is working in cooperation with PACT POW on the on-going Save Our Waterfront campaign. 

New Report Links Algae to Duffin Creek WPCP

Town congratulates Premier on Great Lakes Protection Act

On Feb. 20, the Town of Ajax congratulated Premier Wynne on the introduction of the Great Lakes Protection Act. The Act, if passed, has the potential to address the algae issue plaguing the Ajax Waterfront caused by the Duffin Creek WPCP.

Download and read the letter.

Special Evening with Dr. Auer, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Ajax Town Hall

Town of Ajax Reply to Regions’ submission of Sept. 30, 2014

Stop the Algae Campaign

During the recent 2014 Provincial Election, all four Ajax-Pickering MPP candidates, including MPP Joe Dickson, committed to requiring the Regions to undertake a full EA of the Duffin Creek WPCP and implement the best method of stopping the release of phosphorus that feeds algae growth along the Ajax Waterfront by 2017. We must hold the Premier, new Minister and MPP Dickson to this commitment.