Ontario’s new marine-water recycling scheme aims to help residents and businesses cope with the new challenges
Posted On August 6, 2021
On Wednesday, Ontario’s Environment Ministry announced a new marine recycling initiative that will see businesses and homeowners recycle up to 1.5 million tonnes of water a day from municipal lakes and streams.
The water will be returned to local municipal water agencies and then be recycled at a local recycling facility.
The project, which was announced in April, will see Ontario’s municipal water supply become the largest source of clean water for the province.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the initiative is aimed at “saving our communities and our environment.”
“This will be a great way to help us transition to a more sustainable future,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity to help Ontario.”
The province’s new program, which is expected to be in place by early 2018, will help the province meet a number of water quality targets.
The province has pledged to replace as much as 60 per cent of its municipal water by 2030, which would require the reuse of 1.6 billion litres of water annually.
“We have to look at our drinking water and how we can reduce our use of municipal water and the amount of water we use to irrigate our fields and cities and how that’s being impacted on our water supply,” said Kevin Lacey, the province’s environment minister.
Lacey said Ontario’s plan to replace municipal water with marine waste is a “very significant step forward.”
“The government’s goal is to reduce our reliance on municipal water, which it believes will help to reduce the impacts of climate change, water pollution, drought, flooding, drought stress and other environmental challenges,” he said.
But there are some challenges with the initiative.
The first is that the province has not yet identified a specific quantity of marine waste that will be recycled, said Kathleen Wysong, an environmental scientist with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
“The provincial government is working very closely with municipalities to find a solution to this problem,” she told The Globe and Mail.
“There are some things that are quite difficult to measure.
But it is a significant amount of marine debris that has to be collected.”
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has said that about 30 per cent, or around 1.7 billion litres, of the 1.4 billion litres that are expected to have to be recycled will have to come from landfills and other sites, but Wysongs said that estimate could change.
“So it’s really going to depend on how we determine how much marine debris is on site, and how much it is going to be used in our water treatment process,” she explained.
“That’s the challenge with the data that we’re getting now.”
Lacey added that the ministry is also working with local governments to determine how many of those 1.2 billion litres are actually being used in the local water treatment plant.
The new recycling program is being spearheaded by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which will work with municipal and provincial water suppliers, including municipalities, to figure out how much is being recycled and how it is being used.
The Ontario Department of Energy and Climate Change has also been working with municipalities on the issue.
“Our goal is that we will get to a point where we are generating a sufficient amount of clean freshwater to meet the needs of communities,” said a spokesperson for the ministry, who asked not to be named.
“But we want to do it at a sustainable cost, and that is a goal that we’ve been working toward.”
Ontario’s marine recycling program was announced under the Ontario Water Framework, which includes two initiatives: the Clean Water for Ontario (CWEF) program and the New York Aquatic Aquatic Park (NYAAAP).
CWEF is aimed specifically at ensuring that municipal wastewater is reused at wastewater treatment plants, while NYAAAP aims to reduce storm water runoff in the city of Toronto.
But both initiatives are meant to be more than just a one-time, one-off project.
“These are initiatives that will enable us to reduce water usage and provide additional benefits for local communities,” Wysenski said.
The goal is also to help the government meet the 2020 targets to cut the total amount of waste in the province from 1.25 billion litres to about 1 billion litres.
While the provincial government’s focus on water conservation is a big step forward, Wysonski said that Ontario has a long way to go before the province is using as much freshwater as it needs.
“One of the challenges that we face is the amount that is being produced,” she added.
“At some point we have to stop producing more and use less.”
Ontario is expected in early 2018 to meet its 2020 target of reducing its water use by 15 per cent.
The government has been trying to curb its use of the water since the 1990s, and has set a goal of reducing water consumption to 20 per cent by 2030.
But the provincial Liberals have faced criticism for their failure to