Raw sewage has been overflowing into Ontario's lakes and rivers at an alarming rate and the government is doing little to stop it, the province's environmental watchdog said Tuesday as she laid out broad changes required to help keep waterways clean. Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe outlined her concerns and recommendations in an annual report — called Back to Basics — that looked at the state of the province's waterways between April 2017 and March this year. During that time, the report found that raw sewage overflowed into southern Ontario waterways 1,327 times. More than half of those overflows — 766 — were from nearly 60 outdated municipal sewer systems that combine sewage and stormwater.
Some 3.2 million litres of raw sewage and rainfall runoff spilled into Winnipeg's river system last month but the incident was unusual only in scope. The amount -- more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool -- was one of the largest spills in years, but was one of about 20 such events that occur each year.
“I had so many questions.” Such as: If the river has poop in it from nearby houses, how many houses? Bowles collected and analyzed water samples, running them through a filter funnel and putting the filter on an enterococci testing card. After 36 hours in an incubator, the colonies of fecal bacteria on the card turn blue. Bowles counted the blue dots. The results revealed levels of fecal contamination above Canada’s federal standards for swimming or boating. Among those sailing the LaHave waters at the time was Bowles’ little brother. Conrad chimed in, “You were mortified.”