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.
Rising water levels in the St. Lawrence Seaway could cost the economy more than $1 billion, shippers and port operators say. A new study from the Chamber of Marine Commerce warns that opening the floodgates further at a dam in Cornwall, Ont., would wash away between $1 billion and $1.75 billion in revenue for businesses on both sides of the border. A board of control recently increased the flow at the Moses Saunders Dam — the only control point on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which includes the Great Lakes — to allow 10,400 cubic metres of water per second out of Lake Ontario.
As of Wednesday morning, water levels on Lake Ontario at Cobourg exceeded those seen in the historic 2017 flood. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the water level at Cobourg is 75.92 metres above sea level. At its highest in 2017, the level was 75.88 metres above sea level. “We’re approximately 40 centimetres above normal,” Cobourg Mayor John Henderson said. “With the rain we got this week, I expect that 40 centimetres will be higher, approaching 60 centimetres.”
Ontario's government is working to protect what matters most by identifying priorities for action to help protect the water quality and ecosystems of the Great Lakes and other waterways as part of its commitment in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. Today, Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Grand Council Chief Glen Hare co-chaired the Great Lakes Guardian Council, which includes leaders from across Ontario including municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, environmental organizations, and the science community, to discuss challenges and opportunities around the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the U.S., a trend that is likely to bring more extreme storms while also degrading water quality, worsening erosion and posing tougher challenges for farming, scientists report. In a report commissioned by the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, the annual mean air temperature in the region increased 0.89 C in the periods 1901-60 and 1985-2016 — compared to 0.67 C for the rest of U.S.