In the early fall of 2011, the Vermilion River had a Cyanobacteria outbreak that affected several interconnected lakes, and lasted until the heavy rains came in late October. This outbreak was extremely disturbing to local residents who use water from the Vermilion for their daily household needs, and also for those who use the river for swimming and fishing. Cyanobacteria can be highly toxic and poses a life threat to people and animals.
The long warm summer and fall season most likely was a big part of the problem, however, the nine sewage treatment plants dumping treated, and sometimes partially or untreated effluent into the Vermilion River Watershed might also be fueling the problem. A 2009 EcoJustice Report pointed out the City of Sudbury as the fourth highest City in Ontario for dumping partially treated and untreated waste water effluent into the environment. Since then the City of Sudbury Waste Water Treatment staff have made an exerted effort to improve their record, and we thank them for that. However, it is now up to the City and taxpayers to step up to the plate and ensure that tax dollars are invested in upgrades to our local Waste Water Treatment Facilities to include tertiary treatment – a third level of treatment in the process. Also City storm water must drain into storm water holding areas instead of being released directly into the Vermilion River system.
As you can see by the above picture, cyanobacteria is also becoming a major problem in the Great Lakes, because of global warming. This is causing warmer water temperatures, and heavy rains which can overwhelm waste water treatment facilities, washing effluent and fertilizers, etc., into our watersheds, and ultimately into the Great Lakes. Please check out the EcoJustice website which has an excellent article addressing this problem. Click here to go to the article.