U.S. Water News Online
VICTORIA, British Columbia -- Canada's coastal cities rank
among the world's worst offenders when it comes to spewing billions
of gallons of dirty, stinking and dangerous untreated sewage into
open waters, says a report released by environmental groups.
Victoria, Montreal, St. John, Halifax, Charlottetown and St.
John's continue to use their surrounding waters as large toilet bowls
to discharge human waste and toxic chemical cocktails, with little or
no sewage treatment, says the report which graded 22 cities across
The report was compiled by the Sierra Legal Defense Fund on behalf
of the Georgia Strait Alliance, the Labor Environmental Alliance
Society and the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation.
Calgary, Edmonton and Whistler were issued top marks by the
environmental groups for upgrading their sewage systems to full 100
percent tertiary treatment.
Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto and Brandon were
among other Canadian cities that received improved grades for major
improvements to their sewage treatment systems over the past three
"The casual assumption that whatever we pour down the drain and
flush down the toilet is suitably treated before being released into
the environment is false," the report said.
Many of Canada's sewage systems are dumping grounds for all manner
of wastes and must be cleaned up, the report said.
An Environment Canada spokesman said Ottawa and the provinces are
working toward developing a joint wastewater treatment program by
"All the provinces and territories have agreed to work on that,"
said Claude Fortin, chief of the municipal wastewater effluent
"Then we could have those national standards," he said. "We could
all agree as to how we should manage this sector."
Environment Canada will regulate the proposed national standards,
The report found Victoria's sewage outfalls discharged 2,920
metric tons of oil and grease, 9 metric tons of copper and 2.5 metric
tons of cyanide into the ocean over a two-year period.
Lead, silver, mercury and other potential harmful chemicals were
also found in the Victoria discharges.
Tests on effluent from treated sewage in Toronto in 2003 found a
soup of chemicals, the study said.
"We're still failing to meet standards that they would have in the
United States and Europe," Margot Venton, a spokeswoman for the
Sierra Legal Defense Fund, said at a news conference in Victoria.
Montreal, which received an "F" grade, dumps 360 billion liters of
raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River annually.
Dawson City, Yukon received an "E" grade because it continues to
discharge 1 billion liters of raw sewage annually. But the E is an
improvement over its previous F grade because the tiny community is
awaiting funding to upgrade its sewage treatment.
Victoria didn't even rank a letter grade due to its decision to
continue dumping 34 billion liters of untreated sewage into the ocean
each year, the report said.
"It's time something were done about it," said Peter Ronald of the
Vancouver Island-based Georgia Strait Alliance.
Killer whales and seals already have high levels of potential
deadly compounds like PCBs, he said.
"These toxic chemicals play havoc with sea birds, mammals and
other sensitive marine life and ultimately are consumed by humans
through the fish and shellfish we eat," the report said.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.