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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Uxbridge lashes out at Lake Simcoe solutions

Provincial policy proposed to reduce phosphorous from sewage plants
Mar 30, 2010 - 03:33 PM

UXBRIDGE -- The Township and Region are lashing out at proposed solutions to protect Lake Simcoe.

While measures are being introduced to reduce the phosphorus load in the major lake north of Uxbridge, the load is increasing on Uxbridge, said officials during a recent meeting.

In June 2009, the Province approved the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, with Ontario to develop a phosphorus reduction strategy. That policy proposal was posted in February, aiming to reduce phosphorus from sewage treatment plants and stormwater from 72 tonnes to 44 tonnes, according to Richard Vandezande, the Township's manager of development services.

But since only seven per cent (five tonnes) of the phosphorus load is currently attributed to sewage treatment plants such as the one on Main Street North, it will be very difficult to achieve the target reduction through other methods, noted Mr. Vandezande.

"It is estimated the level of current technology would only achieve a reduction to about 58 tonnes a year," he noted.

The head planner also said the strategy would mean more reductions in the future, at 20-per cent less phosphorus from sewage plants every 10 years until 2045.

To help reach the reduction goal, a "water quality trading program" has been suggested to "finance the remaining technological and operational efforts", said Mr. Vandezande, who noted that approach would impact taxpayers.

"This means that municipalities and developers would be trying to buy phosphorus credits to ensure development continues in the watershed."

Further regulations would restrict septic systems within 100 metres of the shoreline and control fertilizer use.

But Councillor Gordon Highet said during the meeting, "this whole plan is like sticking your finger in a hole with the dam collapsing around you ... I think the intent is correct, and solution is way off."

Meanwhile, a recent report from Durham officials stated "the Region is extremely disappointed" that the main focus of the strategy is on sewage plants.

"From a purely mathematical perspective, if the Province wishes to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Simcoe, they could simply reduce or stop urban expansion in the watershed. However, this would conflict with the Province's ... growth plan population targets."

According to a posting of proposed Lake Simcoe regulations on Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights website (, the proposed changes are "designed to protect and restore the lake's ecological health and a self-sustaining coldwater fish community." High phosphorus levels cause excessive plant growth that depletes oxygen in the lake, killing fish.

The Township and Region forwarded their concerns to the Province. Comments on the policy papers can be made at (reference number 010-8986) until April 3.