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Undertreated Sewage Contributes to Harmful Algal Blooms

Excess phosphorus is causing potentially toxic algae blooms on Lake Winnipeg. To restore the health of Manitoba’s great lake, we must reduce phosphorus loading from all sources – including undertreated sewage from urban centres.

Research at IISD Experimental Lakes Area shows that phosphorus is the nutrient responsible for potentially toxic algae blooms in freshwater lakes.

Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre is the single largest point source of phosphorus flowing into Lake Winnipeg and the fourth largest phosphorus polluter among all wastewater treatment facilities in Canada.

An October 2018 Probe Research poll found 65 per cent of Manitobans agreed that upgrading the NEWPCC should be “a very urgent priority.”

While the City of Winnipeg is planning to fully upgrade the plant, the latest cost estimates are now pegged at $1.8 billion, and nutrient-reduction efforts are not projected to start for at least another 10 years.

In the interim, a simple retrofit to the NEWPCC could be implemented quickly for an initial startup cost of only $5 million, reducing the plant’s phosphorus contribution by 70 per cent.

In this short brochure, the Lake Winnipeg Foundation and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, present their plans for an interim solution.

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