News

Thousands of used condoms found in Lake Ontario

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

Mark Mattson Photo

Mark Mattson Photo

Lake On-toilet?

Mark Mattson, of the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, said he and two associates were in a boat about a kilometre from the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday afternoon when they came across a two-kilometre stretch of floating garbage — thousands of used condoms, wet naps, tampons and plastic applicators.

“I’ve never seen anything like this out on the lake, but I don’t know if it was because it was so calm and glassy,” said Mattson. “It was a lot of disgusting toiletries floating along with this sewage. That’s how you know it’s coming from the sewers, because you’re seeing things people flush down the toilet, as opposed to tennis balls, chip bags and cigarettes, which come from storm water.”

The men reported the discovery to the province’s Spills Action Centre which told them there was nothing on their radar. Mattson said he returned to the area Monday and it had been cleaned up.

“I’m assuming that whatever they were doing there, that the sewage was released without being screened, that’s all you can assume,” Mattson said.

Mattson also uploaded a video to the group’s Facebook page, which has since garnered over 13,800 views.

“This is just one instance of what happens when Toronto experiences heavy rain,” the Facebook posting reads. “Many people who are recreational water users don’t see this and are left in the dark.”

Gary Wheeler, spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, confirmed the Spills Action Centre received a call Friday afternoon of suspected sewage spill. The ministry contacted the City of Toronto treatment plant and learned there had not been any untreated sewage released into the lake.

Toronto Water reported the Ashbridges Bay treatment plant only had one wastewater treatment bypass event this year on Jan. 10.

Spokesman Randall Meier said there could be a number of reasons for the large amount of debris in the water, including boats illegally discharging their wastewater into the lake.

The debris could also come from rivers which empty into the lake.

“In a heavy storm, if the combined sewer becomes overloaded it may discharge into the river along with floatables and rainwater runoff from the pavement,” he said. “These will float into Lake Ontario and can be carried by the currents throughout the lake.”

Another possibility could be an incorrectly or illegally connected a storm sewer. In such cases, the discharge can flow directly into a stream, river or Lake Ontario.



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