City Of Toronto Fined $150,000 for Failing to Operate its Sewage Works in Accordance with its Certificate of ApprovalOn June 28, 2011, the City of Toronto pled guilty to one violation under the Ontario Water Resources Act for not operating its sewage works in accordance with its Certificate of Approval.
The Court heard that the city operates the Ashbridges Bay treatment plant located in Toronto. In December 2006, the plant discharged partially treated sewage into Lake Ontario as a result of heavy rains and a bypass gate remaining open. There were no impacts to drinking water as a result of this incident. Since it was winter, there were no impacts to local beaches.
Specifically, on December 1, 2006, the plant bypassed partially treated sewage, due to heavy rainfall. This bypass was permitted by its Certificate of Approval. Once the rainfall subsided, city staff instructed the plant’s computerized system to close the bypass gate and believed the bypass gate had been closed. But the gate remained open for another three and a half days before being discovered, allowing partially treated sewage to continue to be discharged into Lake Ontario.
A ministry inspection after the incident found a required flow measuring device had failed to monitor and measure the bypass as expected.
Since this incident, the city has made improvements to the plant including upgrading the gate valve mechanisms and other enhanced hardware and physical inspections to help prevent incidents like this from happening again.
The city was charged following an investigation by the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch.
The city was convicted of operating a sewage works not in accordance with its Certificate of Approval by failing to record the daily flow-rate. The city was fined $150,000 plus a victim fine surcharge and given 60 days to pay the fine.
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