Expanded Duffin Creek Outfall

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Expanded Outfall from the Duffins Creek Sewage Plant

Access the Regions' Phase 2 EA Draft Report HERE

The Duffins Creek sewage plant (illustrated at right, officially known as the York-Durham Water Pollution Control Plant) is located on the shores of Lake Ontario on the Pickering side of the Ajax-Pickering border. It is one of the largest in Canada. It is at the end of the 'Big Pipe' from York Region. It currently dumps about 340 million litres a day (mL/d) of effluent into the lake. 80% of this is from York Region. All waste receives secondary treatment which means that while it may look clean, it still contains a lot of nutrient chemicals. When testing reveals that phosphorus levels are too high, then and only then, does the plant apply tertiary chemical treatment to reduce the phosphorus to 'acceptable' levels.

For an explanation of sewage treatment, click here for an excellent slide show entitled 'Waste Water 101' prepared by York region, which explains the terminology and processes. It is quite a large file, so it may take a minute or so to load.

More study ordered by Minister on Duffins Creek Sewage Outfall

More than two years after the regions submitted their environmental assessment to the province for duckbill diffusers on the outfall pipe, the Minister has issued his response - not a victory, but definitely not a defeat.

The minister has ordered the Regions (Durham & York - the proponents) to do more studies.

Specifically the Regions are to engage an independent waste water expert to prepare a "Phosphorus Reduction Action Plan Study"

The Ministry appears to have accepted the evidence that the excess Cladophora on Ajax's waterfront is at least partially due to phosphorus from the sewage plant and is looking for a plan to reduce it.

The study is to include "a determination of the feasibility of achieving a permanent (or ongoing) annual average concentration of 0.35 mgms per litre of total phosphorus in the WPCP effluent, as well as a total load of 190 Kgm per day based on an annual average."

Currently the plant is discharging at about 0.5 mgms per litre and and a maximum load of 311 kgm per day, so the reduction is not huge but the study will include:

a study of new methods that could be employed to reduse phosphorus in the WPCP effluent; and

the determination of an option that will result in the lowest achievable level ,of total phosphorus levels in effluent, including an assessment of thre operating implications of, and the modifications and costs required to achieve such reductions

Tell Environment Minister Bradley for a 'Bump Up' on the Duffin Creek Outfall EA

On November 19, Durham & York Regions declared their class EA on the Duffin Creek Sewage Plant Outfall 'competed' in spit of the fact that it has never evn been approved by Durham Regional Council, and, in fact, the Phase II report was specifically rejected back last March. By some quirk of Regional procedure, the EA proceeded regardless and is now 'complete'. 

Outfall Public Information Forums


Tuesday, October 29th, Open House from 5pm to 7pm, Formalpresentation from 7pm to 9pm

East Shore Community Centre,  Meeting Rooms 2 & 4 

910 Liverpool Road South,pickering
(Parking lot located at the rear of the building)


Wednesday, October 30th, Open House from 5pm to 7pm, Formalpresentation from 7pm to 9pm

H.M.S. Ajax Room, Ajax Community Centre, 75 Centennial Rd, Ajax

Please Attend

We need a good turnout to demonstrate our concern for the quality of the water along the shore with particular attention to phosphorus and algae


Old concrete can protect aquatic ecosystems

Thu, 08/22/2013 - 10:27am
copied from http://www.rdmag.com/news/2013/08/old-concrete-can-protect-aquatic-ecosystems

Melanie Sønderup collecting water samples from full-scale experiment. Credit: Lene Esthave/SDUMelanie Sønderup collecting water samples from full-scale experiment. Credit: Lene Esthave/SDULakes and streams are often receiving so much phosphorous that it could pose a threat to the local aquatic environment. Now, research from the University of Southern Denmark shows that there is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent phosphorus from being discharged to aquatic environments. The solution is crushed concrete from demolition sites.

Usually we think of demolished concrete walls and floors as environmental contaminants, but in fact this material may turn out to be a valuable resource in nature protection work. This is the conclusion from researchers from University of Southern Denmark after studying the ability of crushed concrete to bind phosphorus.

"We have shown that crushed concrete can bind up to 90 per cent of phosphorus, "says PhD student and environmental engineer, Melanie Sønderup, Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.

Contributors to the research are also postdoc, PhD, Sara Egemose and associate professor Mogens Flindt from the same place. Since March 2013 the researchers have tested the technique in a full-scale experiment, which will run until March 2014. But already now they find that the technique is very effective.

Large amounts of phosphorus can be washed out into lakes and streams when it rains. Rainwater that runs off from catchments, especially those fertilized with phosphorus, carries the phosphor with it. This phosphorus rich rainwater is then often collected in rainwater ponds, which discharges into lakes and streams.

"The water in these rainwater ponds can be very rich in phosphorus, and if it is discharged into a lake, it can lead to an increase in algae growth.  This can lead to oxygen depletion and a reduction in the number of species that can live in the water," explains Melanie Sønderup and continues:

"By letting the pond water pass through a filter of crushed concrete, we can remove up to 90 per cent of the phosphorus”.

Phosphorus binds so well to the concrete because it contains cement. Cement is rich in calcium and also contains aluminum and iron. All three can bind phosphorus. Preliminary results show that the size of concrete grains is of importance. The smaller the grains the better they bind phosphoros. Fine concrete powder is thus more effective than millimeter sized concrete bits.

"It is also important that we do not use concrete that has been exposed to wind and rain for a long time, as this washes out the cement, which holds the essential calcium," explains Melanie Sønderup.

As the experiments have only run for six months, the scientists do not yet know the durability of crushed concrete, but they believe that a filter of crushed concrete can last for a long time, probably several years.

“Only when the concrete cannot bind more phosphorous, it will be time to switch to a new layer of crushed concrete―and then the disposed layer can be recycled as road fill,” says Melanie Sønderup.In its first months the filter of crushed concrete needs some assistance:

"In the first app. six months, the water flowing through the filter has a high pH value. This is because the cement in concrete is alkaline, and therefore, the water that comes in contact with the cement, is also alkaline. This can be compared to the water that bricklayers often work with when they mix cement or limewash.  

“Water discharged to a lake or stream must not be this alkaline. In order to reduce its pH value, we add a little acid before we discharge it into the receiving water body.  After running our full-scale experiment for approx. six months, enough cement has been washed out of the crushed concrete so that we no longer need to reduce the water’s pH value, and then I believe that the system can take care of itself,” says Melanie Sønderup.

Source: Univ. of Southern Denmark

Duffin Creek Outfall Update

Update on the Duffin Creek Sewage Plant Outfall

February 21 - Joint meeting of Finance & Administration, Health & Social Services, Planning & Economic Development, and Works Committee

  • Regional Environmental Commissioner John Presta gave a PowerPoint presentation to Council about the Phase II report on the Outfall EA which showed a clear preference for 'duckbill diffusers' which would simply spread the effluent a little wider in order to achieve slightly better dilutions. The information presented made tertiary treatment appear very expensive with the highest carbon footprint. The report itself was not presented.
  • DC president Doug Anderson also made a 5 minute presentation dealing with the outfall and sewage in generalities. He indicated the preferred solution would be one which actually removed phosphorus, hence, tertiary treatment.
  • In spite of the sketchy information, the Joint Committee (virtually all members of Council) approved the report.

Subsequently, when the report was released, it became clear that the Powerpoint presentation had left out significant details, most important was the range of tertiary treatment options - including:

Important Meetings re Sewage outfall from Duffin Creek Plant

For background information for these meetings see:
"Expanded Duffins Creek Oufall" under Current Issues in the menu

See also Town of Ajax webpage for Online Video & more information

Please read the information referenced above and attend the PIFs below

Tuesday, February 26, 5pm to 8pm - formal presentation at 6:30
East Shore Community Centre, 910 Liverpool Rd, Pickering, Meeting Rms 1&2
Region of Durham Public Information Forum

Wednesday, February 27, 5pm to 8pm - formal presentation at 6:30
Ajax - McLean Community Centre, 95 Magill Dr
Region of Durham Public Information Forum

These 2 meetings are requirements of the EA and the Region wil try to script them closely, so we need to be ready with good questions that will lead away from their "business-as-usual' agenda

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