Ajax sewage treatment plant issue requires urgency

Ajax’s algae problem is an issue of provincial importance and whichever party forms the government after today’s election, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible…

The Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant is owned by Durham and York regions and they are collecting development charges for a future expansion. They are using a class environmental assessment (EA) to deal with the outfall pipe.

The pipe will eventually be extended to three kilometres out into the lake, an extension from the current one kilometre. But that could be many years down the road, and greater urgency is required. Residents and visitors know that the burst of cladophora algae in the warmer weather makes the waterfront an awful smelly place when the algae washes ashore and dries.

The Town claims the plant’s discharge contains high amounts of phosphorous, which is causing the algae growth. The regions argue there are several factors, including stormwater run-off and zebra mussels. Experts hired by the Town have argued that the treated sewage is the direct cause.

In a recent poll conducted by OraclePoll Research, 84 per cent of Ajacians asked said they either strongly agree or agree that the Province should make the regions stop the plant’s release of phosphorous.

Ajax wants the regions’ EA ‘bumped up’ to a far more stringent individual EA, which would consider more options for handling the plant’s expansion, including adding extra stages of treatment. Both are extremely costly.

We have argued that if, as seems very likely, the pipe is to be extended and the regions are collecting our money for this eventuality, it should occur sooner rather than later.

The best solution is for the pipe to be extended, not in 10 or 20 years but as soon as possible. It won’t stop the algae, but will reduce the amount that fouls our waterfront.

Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Waterfront asked all of the local provincial election candidates to sign a pledge, which calls on the regions “to undertake a full Environmental Assessment of the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant and implement the best method of stopping the release of phosphorus.”

The next provincial government must recognize there is urgency on the issue. Our waterfront is a tremendous resource for Ajacians and everybody in southern Ontario to enjoy.

Durham Region

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