SUPPORT A FEDERAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF ERIN’S SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT

The Ontario Headwaters Institute and our partners in the Credit Headwater Alliance urge all those downstream of Erin and/or who care about sound watershed planning to sign the petition below to support a federal impact assessment of the proposed sewage treatment plant in Erin, Ontario. We also ask you to copy and forward the petition to your local mayor, councillors, and MP. Please take whatever action you can by May 24.

Background

Much of the land close to Lake Ontario is built up, with reduced natural heritage and poor inland water quality. Now, increasing development is charging in to our headwater areas where, unless properly planned, it may overwhelm our smaller streams and push the upland reservoirs upon which the health of many of our degraded watersheds now depend past numerous tipping points. The assault is multi-pronged, and a few issues include:

  • Land use planning that lacks a lens for sustainable communities, buildings, and homes;
  • Thirty-year targets for development lands and 400 series highways in the Greenbelt that drive prices up and farmers away;
  • Provincial policies that expedite virgin aggregate extraction over natural heritage, farming, conservation, and recycling;
  • An absence of cumulative monitoring and reporting – even where required when fundamental land use planning acts are amended; and,
  • Municipal debates about growth, commerce, and taxes, with almost no thought as to where the excrement is going.

Many of these issues are being brought to bear in a proposed development in Erin, in the Upper West Credit River. One in particular revolves around the last bullet above: a proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) that is the cause of concern by many local residents and organizations, as well as provincial organizations. Key issues are that the temperature of the effluent from the STP may kill the local brook trout and that those living downstream were not adequately consulted.

To date, local groups and a federal MP have been very effective in seeking a federal impact assessment of the proposed sewage treatment plant. Efforts have included:

  • A petition to the House of Commons to seek a federal impact assessment of the STP. This petition was initiated by local resident Jenni LeForestier, was supported by conservative MP Kyle Seeback, and has obtained more than 1,700 signatures. You can see this petition at Petition e-3194 – Petitions (ourcommons.ca);
  • A request to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to conduct a federal impact assessment assessment, sent by five local and provincial organizations forming the Coalition for the West Credit River. The request can be found as reference number 81434 on the IAAC website, at Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant Project – Canada.ca (iaac-aeic.gc.ca); and,
  • One member of this group alone led the creation of a petition that has attained more than 21,000 signatories to protect the Credit from the effluent from the proposed sewage treatment plant.

How You Can Help

With just a over a week until the federal government releases its decision on May 26 about doing an impact assessment of this inadequate and harmful sewage treatment plant, we urge anyone to speak out in favour of a full impact assessment,. This includes not only individuals, organizations, and municipalities downstream of Erin, but also anyone who cares about the link between headwater and watershed health. Please:

Thank you,

Andrew McCammon

Text of the petition for your convenience, which you can amend as you wish and send to local officials

I write seeking your support for a federal Impact Assessment of the proposed sewage treatment plant in Erin, Ontario, IAAC file 81434. The reasons are straight-forward:

  • Temperature of the Effluent: The temperature of the effluent from the proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) will be such that it may increase the temperature of the West Credit to a point that will impact the local brook trout, and in particular disrupt their breeding cycle, leading to their extirpation (local extinction);
  • Volume and Velocity of the Effluent: The proposed STP and new additional stormwater run-off appear to add volumes of water and increase stream velocity in the Upper West Credit. This may impact the stability of the stream banks, reduce riparian cover, and alter the stream bed. Outcomes include damage to local property and increased erosion, with the deposition of the eroded material downstream potentially impacting other regionally significant aquatic species;
  • Virtually No Consultation with People Living Downstream nor First Nations: Ontario environmental assessments require public consultation. In the case of the Erin STP, local consultation was sporadic, and consultation with both those living downstream and First Nations were virtually non-existent; and,
  • Impacts excluded under Provincial Rules: The pipe carrying the effluent from the Erin STP is mostly in Ontario’ Greenbelt, as is the location where the pipe will disperse its effluent into the West Credit River. While the Greenbelt Plan allows infrastructure within the Greenbelt, the Plan does not require any environmental assessment of the impact of that infrastructure. It is thus imperative that a federal assessment be commissioned to assess the impact of the effluent on the West Credit River.

To address these short-comings, the proposed STP in Erin needs a federal Impact Assessment.

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