High lake levels, a wet spring and some unavoidable construction have combined to cause a big problem in Hamilton Harbour.
The Woodward Avenue Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is currently undergoing an upgrade, has been dumping partially treated sewage at near-record rates.
The city says there’s been enough sewage dumped to fill 840 Olympic swimming pools and it’s to avoid the flooding of residential basements.
Chris McLaughlin, executive director of the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC), which is charged with the protection and restoration of the Hamilton Harbour ecosystem, says it seems like Hamilton is taking a step back in order to leap forward in terms of water quality.
“The city and the federal and provincial governments have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Woodward Avenue treatment plant and that will reap benefits for generations to come,” he said.
“Not only will we have bacteria treatment but we will have tertiary treatment to fine-tune what is coming out at the end. It will help control phosphorus and that is what is contributing to the blue-green algae problem in the bay.”
Hamilton Public Health Services has confirmed the presence of toxin-producing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) at the Bayfront Park Boat Launch, Pier 4, Harbour West Marina and throughout the marinas on Macassa Bay.
It has warned against any contact with blue-green algae by humans or pets due to the potential health risks associated with it.
Hamilton’s water director Andrew Grice says the upgrades going on at the Woodward Avenue plant should improve daily sewage treatment by 2021.
He says that between the impacts of climate change and the construction, Hamilton has been hit with a double whammy.
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