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Environment to benefit from advocacy by Town of Ajax

Friday, March 23rd 2007 4:21:11pm

Attention News Editors:


(Ajax, Ontario, March 23, 2007)  As a direct result of due diligence by the Town of Ajax and concerned environmental groups, the Duffins Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Expansion (also known as the Big Pipe project) will be subject to additional emission controls, project design and operational requirements.

In making her decision, the Honourable Laurel Broten, Minister of the Environment, agreed with the Town that there remain outstanding concerns not addressed in the original Environmental Study Report (ESR) filed by the Regions (York and Durham) with respect to odour impacts and the feasibility of extending the end of the pipe further into Lake Ontario (currently one km).
"Despite not ordering an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA), the list of conditions is very comprehensive," said Mayor Steve Parish.  "The new conditions the Minister is imposing, including the immediate commencement of an EA to address the limitations of the existing outfall/diffuser, clearly signal that further studies and assessment are needed to address key environmental concerns and the impacts of such a large-scale project."

"The Town will work with the Regions to ensure the project is implemented in accordance with the Minister's order," added Mayor Parish.

The Town has been working with the Regions since November 2005.  The following highlights some of the many changes that have resulted from the Town's involvement:

Regions requested that the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) operate at a rated capacity of 630 million litres per day (MLD).

Minister's Order:
Regions must not operate the WPCP at a rated capacity above 520 MLD. No approval to operate above 540 MLD will be granted until the outfall EA is complete.


Regions requested continued use of an effluent compliance limit for phosphorus of 1 milligram per litre (mg/L).

Minister's Order:
Revised to achieve an objective of 0.6 mg/L within a compliance limit of 0.8 mg/L for phosphorus.


No commitment to conduct an EA to expand the WPCP outfall/diffuser further into Lake Ontario to avoid nearshore contamination.

Minister's Order:
Regions must initiate a new EA within six weeks of obtaining all approvals for the WPCP expansion and provide a comprehensive timeline for this EA process.  Construction of the preferred outcome of the EA must begin within one year of necessary approvals.


Regions requested continued use of the existing limit of 420 kilograms of phosphorus per day.

Minister's Order:
Revised limit on phosphorus loading during the interim period, prior to outfall extension, to a maximum average of 311 kg/day on an annual basis, although the phosphorus loading compliance limit will remain 420

Regions have committed to take part in a number of initiatives to help manage phosphorus and algae.


No comprehensive odour assessment/plan.

Minister's Order:
Within six months of this decision, the Regions shall design and implement a revised approach regarding monitoring, evaluating and controlling emissions from the WPCP, including a revised odour management plan and an odour complaint log.

"From the start, our objective was to protect the interests of Ajax residents and to ensure that our waterfront, including water quality located close to the WPCP and its outfall, will be better protected for decades to come," said Mayor Parish.  "This will only happen by raising regulatory standards and setting new standards that benefit our environment.  I'm confident that the new EA for the outfall extension will yield significant improvements to local water quality."

The WPCP is located on the border of Pickering and Ajax and is expected to handle sewage from up to 1.3 million people in both York and Durham Regions.

In addition to addressing environmental issues associated with the WPCP, the Town is developing a five year plan to implement measures that will effectively treat storm runoff from Ajax lands before it enters Lake Ontario and curb potential local sources of contaminants.  The first step is to complete detailed monitoring and analyses of Duffins Creek, Carruthers Creek and the Lake Ontario shoreline which is currently being conducted by the Town, Region of Durham and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).  The objective of the program is to conduct and assess appropriate samples, identify sources of contaminants, and determine effective treatment measures.


For further information: Christie McLardie, Manager of Communications, (905) 619-2529, ext. 362 or (905) 999-8254