Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Don Slagged as Ontario's Worst River

The Ottawa Citizen published a special report this past weekend on the state of Ontario rivers (reprinted on the Ottawa Riverkeeper's website). Included was a report that labels the Don River as Ontario's worst river. It scored 34.8 out of 100 on a water quality scale, the lowest in Ontario (as a comparison, the Rideau River received a "fair" rating of 74.2). The article is rife with quotes from local Don experts who all agree the river has gone to hell in a handbasket. Problems such as urbanization and sewage overflow from antique sewer systems are cited as major problems.

Of course the Ottawa River is nothing to write home about. Communities along that river still dump treated sewage into the river and they have a problem with combined sewer overflows just like the Don. Surprisingly many communities also rely on the river as a drinking water source (nobody I know still drinks from the Don :( ).

There were two additional articles in the special report, "Grave Waters", and "What's Not Measured". Both articles touch on the major issues affecting many southern Ontario rivers, namely stresses from agricultural and urban runoff are heavily impacting water quality everywhere.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

There are no longer any communities on the Ottawa River that dump raw sewage into the river 24/7. All municipalities have a minimum of primary treatment, many with secondary. However, when it rains, plenty of untreated sewage flows into the river - unacceptable in my mind.

Meredith Brown
Ottawa Riverkeeper

Donwatcher said...

I wade, er... stand corrected.


Anonymous said...

But no one swims in the Don (or at least they shouldn't). There are beaches on the Ottawa. Petrie Island, being downstream from the core, is in the spotlight because of high E. coli counts.

Who builds a public beach downriver from a city with combined sewers?? Two cities, actually. Gatineau is on the other side of Ottawa.

Everyone knows the Don is a cesspool. But in Ottawa, people still swim in the water, with the city's blessing.