Tag Archives: Lake Ontario

PROGRAM REDUCES E. COLI THREATENS TORONTO’S CHERRY BEACH

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Excerpt from WaterCanada magazine’s July/August issue – “A power plant works to mitigate E. coli that threatens the sandy shores of Toronto’s Cherry Beach“, by Leslie Hetherington, as printed in the
On a summer day, residents and tourists often flock to one of Toronto’s many Lake Ontario beaches.

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However, leisure activities can be curtailed by high levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the lake water. Although most E. coli strains are harmless, some can cause serious health problems to humans who swallow them or swim in water that has been contaminated by them. To protect the public, Ontario warns against swimming when tests show 100 E. coli-colony-forming units per 100 millilitres (CFU/100 mL) of water at a specific beach and has set this value as a Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO).
ENERGY CENTREAs a local natural gas-fired power plant with a community focus and an active ecological sustainability strategy, the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) is well aware of the threats E. coli pose to nearby Cherry Beach, an eco-labelled Blue Flag beach for its adherence to strict global standards.
BLUE FLAGThe Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label that works towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety, and other services.
The 550-megawatt (MW) PEC was built in 2008 to meet 25 per cent of Toronto’s electricity needs, primarily during peak demand times, and offset emissions from Ontario’s coal-fired generating TORONTO HARBOURstations. During operation, it takes water from Toronto Harbour’s ship channel and turning basin for generation processes and cooling, treats it on site, then releases it into the discharge channel and back to Lake Ontario’s Outer Harbour.
Some E. coli in sanitary sewer and storm water runoff from Toronto neighbourhoods north of the plant enters the ship channel and turning basin from two of the city’s overflows and then enters PEC’s water intake. From there, it may be inadvertently transferred to the Outer Harbour through normal discharge of cooling water, and could potentially reach the popular Cherry Beach.
MINISTRY ENVIRONMENT As part of the its Certificate of Approval for water permits, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) requires the PEC to implement an E. coli control program for the water it uses, but the plant’s management chose to go further.
ECOMETRIXIn 2008, it hired EcoMetrix Inc., an environmental consulting firm, and embarked on a comprehensive four year E. coli monitoring program during the summer months that included the ship channel, the discharge channel, the intake basin, the Outer Harbour, Cherry Beach, and the Eastern Gap.
During the first summer, the firm established a baseline by measuring E. coli concentrations before the plant was operational. As expected, these data revealed no direct relationship between E. coli in the discharge channel or the ship channel during pre-operations.
The consulting firm followed this research in 2009 by looking for relationships between E. coli levels and various aspects of the plant operations. This included studying the effects of operational factors, including volume and temperature of the cooling water intake discharge flows. The team also studied how rainfall influenced E. coli concentrations. In the third summer, team members collected daily samples for 22 weeks to research potential associations between E. coli in cooling water effluent and E. coli at Cherry Beach.
Efforts also included measuring E. coli levels throughout the Outer Harbour after significant rainfall events to narrow down the most probable source of E. coli that could potentially impact Cherry Beach. DON RIVERFindings suggested that the Keating Channel running from the Don River, via the Eastern Gap, was the most likely source of E. coli to affect the popular beach.
Monitoring studies found that changes to flow volume and water temperature caused by plant operations did not appear to influence E. coli concentration in the cooling water effluent. Similarly, E. coli levels in the discharge water were generally the same as those in the intake basin. From this they concluded that on its own, discharged water from the plant was unlikely to increase E. coli concentrations at Cherry Beach.
EAKINSThe same could not be said for precipitation. “We saw E. coli concentrations typically spike to 3,600 to 8,700 CFU/100 mL, during the two to seven hours after we received at least 10 millimetres (mm) of rain within a 24-hour period,” explains Robert J. Eakins, an associate and senior fisheries ecologist at EcoMetrix. “Our modelling studies further indicated that when these E. coli levels reach 3,500 CFU/100 mL, they could potentially cause corresponding levels at Cherry Beach to rise above 100 CFU/100 mL.”
CHERRY BEACHMore importantly, in 2011, the team began to test the effectiveness of using a specialized hyper chlorination process to treat the cooling water effluent to reduce E. coli in it. They pumped a small amount of sodium hypochlorite into the effluent, followed by sodium bisulfate to neutralize and reduce chlorine concentrations to levels below 0.01 milligrams per litre before it’s discharged, as specified in the Certificate of Approval. The impact was almost immediate; E. coli levels in the effluent decreased by approximately 90 per cent within five seconds of treatment.
“With these results, we began to ask what steps we could take to treat more than the mandated amount of water we use and create farther reaching benefits,” says Curtis Mahoney, general manager at PEC. “We coordinated with the City of Toronto and the MOE to implement a larger-scale control program to mitigate E. coli that threatens Cherry Beach and help maintain Blue Flag swimming conditions, even during seasonal periods of heavy rainfall.” …
This summer, the team plans to collect hourly samples before, during, and after significant rainfall events to explore potential program refinements, such as shortening the duration of each chlorination treatment.
With PEC’s program and concerted efforts from other organizations, this summer should offer residents and tourists many carefree hours enjoying Toronto’s Cherry Beach.
LESLIE HETHERINGTON

Leslie Hetherington is communications director for Hardy Stevenson and Associates Ltd.

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WATER BROTHERS BACK FOR 2ND SEASON! – TVO

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Beach brothers back in the water for second season on TVO

This article, by Jon Muldoon, appeared in Beach Metro Community News, September 10, 2013
 

Alex and Tyler Mifflin star in The Water Brothers, which launches its second season September 10 on TVO. Photo courtesy TVOAlex and Tyler Mifflin star in The Water Brothers, which launches its second season September 10 on TVO. Photo courtesy TVO

Beachers Alex and Tyler Mifflin care mostly about three things – one is oxygen, and the other two are hydrogen. The Water Brothers, as the siblings are more widely known, are proud to launch the second season of their eponymous television show tonight, Sept. 10, on TVO.
The brothers sat down last week to talk about all things wet and adventurous, including learning to sail large boats, travelling to the largest festival in the world, ever, in India, and of course focusing on problems in our own back yard, such as the lack of clean drinking water in northern First Nations communities, a national shame in a country blessed with as much fresh water as Canada.
“There’s a vastly disproportionate impact on First Nations,” said Tyler.
So why focus on water to begin with?
“Everything is interconnected through water,” said Alex.
Even though social, environmental, economic and political issues all tie in to clean water, “we don’t see the connections. It’s not always obvious to us,” said Tyler.
While the brothers are passionate about water issues, they realize that working in television, they need to keep their message entertaining, particularly to reach a younger audience. That’s where the travel and adventure comes into play.
INDIA FESTIVAL   In one episode, the brothers travel to India for the Kumbh Mela Festival on the Ganges River, one of the most celebrated yet polluted rivers in the world.
On the same trip they carried on to Bangladesh, which Alex says is “the canary in the coal mine in terms of climate change.”
PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCHOne adventure sees Alex and Tyler sailing to a remote area in the Pacific ocean, to visit “the great Pacific garbage patch.”
On a related recent trip in Lake Ontario, the boys travelled with a crew to measure the amount of plastic debris in their home waters.
PLASTIC BOTTLES“We don’t have the capacity to filter out small pieces of plastic in our wastewater stream,” said Tyler. “It’s being produced even faster than we can figure out where it’s going.”
Another episode involves farmed fish in British Columbia, which might also hit close to home, at least with Toronto seafood lovers.
“Salmon is such an iconic species in Canada, especially on the west coast. It’s a keystone species,” said Tyler.
AlexSALMON agrees, pointing out that what we eat in Ontario creates a measurable impact on water quality in western Canada.
“We aren’t necessarily directly connected to the ocean, but we make food choices every day which do connect us to the ocean,” he said.
Both brothers agree that presenting solutions is a key aspect to their show. From large scale changes to individual choices, Alex and Tyler always try to present viewers with tangible actions they can take to effect change.
Although the brothers are already in the early planning stages for season three, the current season is set to premiere on TVO tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The episodes can also be streamed any time after broadcast at tvo.org and thewaterbrothers.ca.
QUENCH WATER FINDERAlex and Tyler are also working on redesigning and expanding Quench, their mobile app which offers users a map of the closest taps to fill up on clean water in the GTA, to help reduce reliance on plastic bottles. Quench can be downloaded for Android and iPhone.
Anyone interested in helping out directly alongside the Water Brothers can join Alex and Tyler, and many others, at Woodbine Beach on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 21 for the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

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