In Canada's largest city, raw sewage flows into Lake Ontario so often, Toronto tells people they should never swim off the city's beaches for least two days after it rains. Across the country in Mission, B.C., a three-decade-old pipe that carries sewage under the Fraser River to a treatment plant in Abbotsford is so loaded operators can't even slip a camera inside it to look for damage. If that pipe bursts, it will dump 11 million litres of putrid water from area homes and businesses into a critical salmon habitat every day it isn't fixed.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued hefty fines to the University of British Columbia and CIMCO Refrigeration for releasing ammonia-laden water into a tributary of the Fraser River in Vancouver. According to a written statement, UBC was fined $1.2 million and CIMCO $800,000 stemming from a complaint about an ammonia odour at an outfall ditch connected to Booming Ground Creek in Pacific Spirit Regional Park on Sept. 12, 2014. The ministry says UBC and CIMCO were fixing the refrigeration system at Thunderbird Arena at the university's Vancouver campus when they purged residual ammonia vapours from the system into a storm drain that flowed into a ditch and then the creek.
Vancouver is known for rain and snow-capped mountains, both of which supply the city's water reservoirs. But as climate change continues to alter weather patterns and reduce rainfall, the supply will dwindle and Uytae Lee is thirsty for action to be taken now. Metro Vancouver is also predicting another one million people will arrive in the region by 2050 and predicts a water "supply gap" by 2030.