Environmental watchdog warns Ontario to wake up to source water pollution

“The government still allows an astonishing amount of pollution to flow into our lakes and rivers,” Saxe said.
She pointed to raw municipal sewage from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), agricultural runoff, toxic industrial waste and road salt as the four biggest sources of water contamination in the province.
“All four are things that the Ontario government has known about for decades, but has consistently chosen not to regulate them effectively,” the commissioner said.
Municipalities struggle with curbing raw sewage discharges Sewage from combined sewer overflows may be the worst culprit of all.
Municipalities can be permitted to dump raw sewage into water bodies if they have “used all reasonable measures” to avoid it, Saxe said.
According to her report, Back to Basics, one in five Ontarians do not consume water that is protected by the Clean Water Act, legislation from 2006 that set in law how the province would protect source water (lakes, for example, or aquifers) on a watershed-by-watershed basis.
Of those residents not drinking water protected by provincial legislation, three percent are in northern or Indigenous communities, Saxe said.
And while 82 percent of Ontarians who get municipal drinking water have access to clean water, it’s unwise to expect that municipalities can provide safe drinking water indefinitely if source water protections set to expire on March 31, 2019 are not renewed.
“We have to get water from somewhere,” Saxe said.
“The more we pollute the water, not only do we lose biodiversity, but it becomes harder and harder to find water we can drink.” And across the province, more municipalities are seeing the effects of polluted water.

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