Proposes a holistic approach to identify and reduce all sources of phosphorus emissions
NEWMARKET -The Regional Municipality of York has submitted a number of suggestions to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to help reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Simcoe as part of proposed amendments to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
The province released the draft Lake Simcoe Phosphorus Reduction Strategy and Water Quality Trading Feasibility Study in February.
These reports emphasized major controls on sewage treatment plants to address phosphorus loading in Lake Simcoe, but they did not address as strongly, other significant phosphorus contributors.
York Region advocates that the successful reduction of phosphorus in the Lake Simcoe watershed will require the full participation of all contributing sources, not only sewage treatment plants. This would include hard targets for other phosphorus contributors and improved wellhead protection from phosphorus-laced groundwater runoff.
“Reducing phosphorus levels in Lake Simcoe is extremely important to help ensure the overall environmental health of the Lake Simcoe watershed and the health of residents who live there,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.
“York Region has been a leader in phosphorus reduction by implementing the latest technologies in our sewage treatment plants. As a small contributor of phosphorus to Lake Simcoe, we can build on our successes by identifying and resolving other major sources of phosphorus in the lake.”
York Region has five sewage treatment plants that discharge treated effluent into the Lake Simcoe watershed and has consistently, upon expansion, improved them with upgrades to the latest technologies available, such as membrane filtration technology. The Region removes 97 to 99 per cent of phosphorus at our sewage treatment facilities, before releasing treated effluent to the Lake Simcoe watershed.
The proposed phosphorus reduction strategy does not recognize York Region’s considerable efforts to reduce phosphorus.
To date, three of the Region’s plants have already exceeded the standard treatment concentrations proposed in the Strategy and would be required to reduce phosphorus even further.
In these instances, York Region is being held to a higher standard than other sewage treatment plant owners in the watershed.
By already utilizing the newest technology, York Region is in a position of not being able to further reduce phosphorus levels at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
“York Region is an active member of the Lake Simcoe Co-ordinating Committee, and we have an excellent opportunity to work with our partners and the province to pinpoint major sources of phosphorus emissions into the watershed and develop a strategy to reduce these levels,” said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Chair of the Region’s Environmental Services Committee.
“Ultimately, a wide-scale strategy that targets all phosphorus sources will better benefit both our residents and our environment than one that focuses strictly on one small segment.”
The Region will continue ongoing dialogue with members of the Lake Simcoe Co-ordinating Committee and the Government of Ontario as comments are taken into consideration on the provincial study.
To read the York Region staff report, please click here or visit www.york.ca
and visit the links under the May 20th Council Agenda.
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Media Contact: Barbara Moss, Corporate Communications, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444 Ext. 1237 / Cell: 905 505-5775