HELP US SAVE ONE OF THE LAST PRISTINE WATERSHEDS IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO

what is the west credit river watch

“We pursue a fact based approach to protecting the west credit river watershed and its natural inhabitants”


The Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant (EWWTP), currently in the design phase, will have adverse effects on native Brook Trout and their coldwater habitat in the West Credit River.  

For generations of Ontarians the West Credit River has provided respite from urban life.  Thousands of of families continue to visit and experience these cool, clear and sparkling waters throughout the seasons. 

The West Credit River Watch is dedicated to environmental protection and is fiercely working to create awareness so that future generations of biologists, school children, residents and visitors may continue to experience pristine nature in close proximity to the GTA.  We are greatly concerned about losing the habitat and biodiversity that reside in this Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere location.

The West Credit River has a thriving population of Brook Trout that will be placed at risk of drastic demise as a result of effluent discharged from the Town of Erin’s proposed Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Brook Trout are a highly sensitive coldwater species and their survival relies on stream temperatures no greater than 19oC – 20oC for any sustained period of time.  

The Environmental Study Report (ESR) approved by the Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), was deficient in the following ways:

Brook Trout and their habitat will be at risk from sewage plant discharge.

Brook Trout habitat immediately downstream of the sewage discharge location will be made uninhabitable.  The sewage wastewater (effluent) will contain lower dissolved oxygen than recommended by federal guidelines for the protection of coldwater aquatic life and, according to modeling, the Provincial Water Quality Objectives for unionized ammonia won’t be reached at the boundary of a 153 m long contaminated plume.  This will create an oxygen depleted plume that could extend several hundred meters downstream into Brook Trout nursery habitat.

Brook Trout and their habitat will be at risk from sewage plant discharge.

Brook Trout habitat immediately downstream of the sewage discharge location will be made uninhabitable.  The sewage wastewater (effluent) will contain lower dissolved oxygen than recommended by federal guidelines for the protection of coldwater aquatic life and, according to modeling, the Provincial Water Quality Objectives for unionized ammonia won’t be reached at the boundary of a 153 m long contaminated plume.  This will create an oxygen depleted plume that could extend several hundred meters downstream into Brook Trout nursery habitat.

Climate change affects were not adequately addressed.

The influence of climate change on rising background stream temperature, rising sewage plant effluent temperature, rising groundwater temperatures, and its cumulative effects on the ecology of the West Credit River and Brook Trout survival was not adequately addressed.

Climate change affects were not adequately addressed.

The influence of climate change on rising background stream temperature, rising sewage plant effluent temperature, rising groundwater temperatures, and its cumulative effects on the ecology of the West Credit River and Brook Trout survival was not adequately addressed. 

No effluent temperature limits were stipulated.

Despite several recommendations and concerns raised by all government agencies, no effluent temperature limits and design objectives were set to ensure stream and effluent temperatures are kept cool.  No explanation was provided for dismissing this critical measure to protect Brook Trout and their habitat. 

No effluent temperature limits were stipulated.

Despite several recommendations and concerns raised by all government agencies, no effluent temperature limits and design objectives were set to ensure stream and effluent temperatures are kept cool.  No explanation was provided for dismissing this critical measure to protect Brook Trout and their habitat. 

Sewage effluent discharge temperature data was narrow and weak.

A critical estimate of stream temperature after mixing with sewage effluent used only one year of data, from a year with a cold summer.  Sewage effluent temperature is a key input for calculating mixed stream temperatures.  The mixed stream temperature in the summer months is critical because the river flow is low and mixed stream temperatures approach the limit for brook trout survival.

Sewage effluent discharge temperature data was narrow and weak.

A critical estimate of stream temperature after mixing with sewage effluent used only one year of data, from a year with a a cold summer.  Sewage effluent temperature is a key input for calculating mixed stream temperatures.  The mixed stream temperature in the summer months is critical because the river flow is low and mixed stream temperatures approach the limit for brook trout survival.

Stakeholder notification and consultation was inadequate.

The town of Erin did not:

  • Directly notify or consult with directly affected riverfront landowners immediately at or adjacent to the sewage effluent discharge site;
  • Notify residents of Caledon or advertise in local Caledon newspapers, even though the sewage effluent is discharged at the Erin/Caledon border and flows directly downstream into Caledon;
  • Notify Caledon residents or well-known Caledon conservation organizations.

Stakeholder notification and consultation was inadequate.

The town of Erin did not:

  • Directly notify or consult with directly affected riverfront landowners immediately at or adjacent to the sewage effluent discharge site;
  • Notify residents of Caledon or advertise in local Caledon newspapers, even though the sewage effluent is discharged at the Erin/Caledon border and flows directly downstream into Caledon;
  • Notify Caledon residents or well-known Caledon conservation organizations.

7.2 million liters per day of effluent could allow the population to grow to 24,731.

The MECP approval does not limit the number of people that can connect to the sewage plant, it only limits the discharge to 7.2 million liters per day.  Instead, the plant could actually service a population of 24,731.  This is 5,585 more than the 18,873 population target cited in the ESR and 5.5 times the current population of 4,500.

7.2 million liters per day of effluent could allow the population to grow to 24,731.

The MECP approval does not limit the number of people that can connect to the sewage plant, it only limits the discharge to 7.2 million liters per day.  Instead, the plant could actually service a population of 24,731.  This is 5,585 more than the 18,873 population target cited in the ESR and 5.5 times the current population of 4,500.

Increased groundwater demand could harm the sensitive ecology of the West Credit River.

Greatly increased groundwater pumping to supply a major increase in Erin’s population could result in a drop in stream flow.  Reduced stream flow in summer months has tremendous potential to harm the sensitive ecology of the river because lower flows do not adequately dilute the effluent.  Dilution of the effluent is critical to mitigate the effects of potentially damaging effluent temperature, unionized ammonia and other trace pollutants in the effluent.

Increased groundwater demand could harm the sensitive ecology of the West Credit River.

Greatly increased groundwater pumping to supply a major increase in Erin’s population could result in a drop in stream flow.  Reduced stream flow in summer months has tremendous potential to harm the sensitive ecology of the river because lower flows do not adequately dilute the effluent.  Dilution of the effluent is critical to mitigate the effects of potentially damaging effluent temperature, unionized ammonia and other trace pollutants in the effluent.

A lack of transparency and traceability of how and why key decisions were made.

Key decisions and conclusions were made during the environmental assessment process without supporting documentation included in the ESR to explain the rational.  For example, an MNRF request for more detailed modelling of sewage effluent temperature impacts was not included in the ESR. 

A lack of transparency and traceability of how and why key decisions were made.

Key decisions and conclusions were made during the environmental assessment process without supporting documentation included in the ESR to explain the rational.  For example, an MNRF request for more detailed modelling of sewage effluent temperature impacts was not included in the ESR. 

How you can help

resources

The Briefing Notes and other supporting documentation can be found on the Resources Page.