water toronto

Toronto is spending $3 billion to improve the city's water quality

Toronto is doing some serious work to reroute its storm water and help improve the quality of its rivers, as well as Lake Ontario — which has a bit of a history of not being the cleanest.

Though the city's swimming beaches are maintained at extremely high standards these days, things like E. coli can still be a concern if heavy rainfall overflows sewers and contaminates waterways.

This is the reason that Mayor John Tory is allotting $3 billion to help manage storm water across the city over the next 25 years.

The five-part Wet Weather Flow Master Plan started with the Coxwell Bypass Tunnel, which saw a new phase of construction commence today. The tunnel will run 10.5 km, joining at one point to the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant.

When finished, the tunnel network will serve as a space to store the combined rain water and wastewater that our current sewage infrastructure does not have capacity for, and which usually overflows directly into Lake Ontario during big storms.

Stormwater will then be able to be treated at the plant — which will be getting a fancy new UV wastewater treatment system as part of the project — before being released into the lake.

The initiative, though expensive, has obvious benefits for not only human residents who can better enjoy Toronto's waterways, but for fish and wildlife residents, too. It may also help with erosion and algae growth.

Residents should notice less flooding from storm drains and sewers as the project moves forward. And, the end result will be a noticeable difference in the water quality of the Don River, Taylor-Massey Creek and along Toronto’s harbourfront.

Lead photo by

Jorge Vasconez


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