Protect Your Lake – Protect Your Investment – Septic System Handbook – Courtesy of Fairbank Lake Camp Owner’s Association


Greater Sudbury is the “City of Lakes” and many people living on waterfront properties are dedicated to protecting the water quality around their homes. Recently, several lakes in the Sudbury area have developed blue/green algae blooms affecting drinking water and closing beaches.

Some of the causes of algae blooms are faulty septic systems, storm water run-off and increased levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Read more

Sudbury Water and Wastewater Master Plan – Class EA

The City of Greater Sudbury is undertaking a Water and Wastewater Master Plan under a Class Environmental Assessment.

Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS) would like to congratulate the City of Greater Sudbury for taking a big-picture perspective to its current water and wastewater treatment challenges. The City’s water and wastewater infrastructure is spread out widely to accommodate the individual municipal operations; however, with the amalgamation of all the smaller municipalities into the City of Greater Sudbury, it makes sense to consider the best overall plan for the entire City. This is a great opportunity to consolidate, bring efficiencies, and to plan for a new high level sewage treatment plant/s with much improved environmental protection and sustainable water management services.

VRS is very supportive of the master plan approach and looks forward to fully participating in the Class EA and master plan process. Read more

Lively/Walden Wastewater Treatment System – Part II Order Request


Algae on Simon Lake – Lively, Ontario

The City of Greater Sudbury is proposing to decommission the Lively Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and upgrade the Walden WWTP.  Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS) has requested tertiary treatment, which is a third means of effluent treatment, to improve water quality on the lower Junction Creek, Simon Lake, McCharles Lake, and the lower Vermilion River.  VRS is making a request to the Minister of Environment to issue a Part II Order to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment.  See attached letter – Click to Download.

SimonLake12Sep09 (16)-Web

Park Beach on Simon Lake

Interview by Vocal Vibes – Deep Waters

Deep Waters – the latest edition of Vocal Vibes Podcast

Vocal Vibes recently interviewed Linda Heron, Chair of the Vermilion River Stewardship and the Ontario Rivers Alliance.

We all live in a watershed.  That’s not something most North Americans think about, even though we turn on our taps many times a day, wash our cars, fertilize our lawns, or throw away toxic substances.  The Deep Waters edition of Vocal Vibes dives into water quality, a type of bloom that you don’t want, and small victories.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Ella Lake - Blue-green Algae Bloom

Ella Lake – Blue-green Algae Bloom


Vermillion River to use grant funds for water quality testing

OTFHORIZcolourBy Jonathan Migneault, The Sudbury Star

In a rare occurrence, the Vermillion River Stewardship received all $103,000 it had asked for from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to fund a research project that will sample the water quality of the Vermillion River over a two-year period.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, who has been a strong supporter for more testing of the Vermillion River, said it was the first time she has seen the Ontario Trillium Foundation hand out the full amount requested by a non-profit organization.

The grant will allow Vermillion River Stewardship to pay two technicians from Conservation Sudbury, who will work with a volunteer to test and analyze the full length of the river. Read more

Blue Green Algae – Water Quality – VRS to NDCA

4 January 2012

Nickel District Conservation Authority
200 Brady Street, 1st Floor,
Tom Davies Square
Sudbury, ON
P3E 5K3

Attention: Paul Sajatovic, General Manager

Dear Mr. Sajatovic:

Re: Water Quality

The Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS) is a Not-for-Profit organization, acting as a voice for the Vermilion River and its stakeholder Communities, to support a healthy, natural and sustainable river ecosystem. VRS is very concerned about a public health and safety issue that occurred on the Vermilion River last fall, and is looking to Nickel District Conservation Authority (NDCA) for help in addressing our questions and concerns.

In October of last year a Cyanobacteria outbreak was reported on Simon Lake, McCharles Lake, and the Vermilion River, all the way through to Wabagishik Lake. The water flow and levels on the Vermilion, both this year and last, throughout the late summer and early fall months were extremely low, and that, combined with the effluent discharge from 9 Waste Water Treatment Facilities (WWTF), numerous lift stations, transfer stations, and sewage lagoons, has created the prime conditions for this toxic algae.

In a study by D.W. Schindleri, it was revealed that phosphorus is the limiting factor in determining whether algal blooms will occur in a water body, and that combined with these low flow and warm weather conditions was a likely cause of the Cyanobacteria bloom this year. As you know exposure to these blooms through drinking, swimming, bathing, or even breathing their toxic vapours in saunas, creates a health and safety threat to both humans and animals.

In the “Greater Sudbury Source Drinking Water Protection Proposed Assessment Report”, I assume Table 5.7ii addresses the additional risks of the 5 WWT plants and their related facilities, located above the Vale Public Water Intake (PIPZ10S – pathogens in an IPZ with a vulnerability of 10 where threats are significant). However, it is not clear if they are considered as a risk since these facilities are outside of IPZ 1 and 2, or if their cumulative effects are considered in this risk assessment report – please clarify. We also have the additional stress of the 4 WWT plants and their related facilities feeding into the lower Vermilion River Watershed through Junction Creek, and on into the Lower Vermilion River. The cumulative effects of the effluent discharge from all these WWTF is also heightened when heavy rain events necessitate bypassing of untreated or undertreated effluent into the environment.

To date there has been no Cyanobacteria reported on the northern arm of the Vermilion River where the Vale Public Water Intake is located; however, there is a likelihood of this occurring as scientists predict that climate change will increase the number of extreme rain and drought events, and our City of Sudbury waste water facilities were not built to deal with these extreme weather events.

VRS realizes the water going into the Vale Public Water Intake is treated; however, there are numerous questions that we would like answered with respect to the cumulative effects of treated and undertreated effluent discharge, and the threats that Cyanobacteria outbreaks could pose:

  1. Is there a communication protocol between CGS Water Wastewater and NDCA when a sewage bypass occurs?
  2. How are the 5 upstream CGS WWTF accounted for in the Greater Sudbury Source Drinking Water Protection Proposed Assessment Report?
  3. Please clarify how the CGS WWTFs’ cumulative effects are accounted for in this risk assessment report.
  4. To what degree would cyanobacteria toxins be eliminated from treated drinking water at the Vale Public Water Intake and private residences?
  5. What long-term effects would drinking this treated water have on human health and safety?
  6. What protection is provided for the hundreds of Vermilion River shoreline residents who rely on the River and/or its often highly vulnerable aquifers for all their drinking water and household requirements? Most residents do not:
    1. Have the facilities to detect these toxins in their well water, or to filter them out, and/or
    2. Have another convenient source of water available to them.
  7. What are the associated risks of a Cyanobacteria outbreak, or a waste water bypass, to shoreline residents who rely on the Vermilion River for their drinking water and household water needs?

VRS makes the following requests:

  1. Onaping Lake drawdown already begins in September, but could measures be taken to increase the rate of drawdown during the low flow months of September and October to increase water levels and flow in the Vermilion River?
  2. VRS requests a warning protocol to shoreline residents when WWTF bypasses or toxic algae events occur and water quality is compromised – similar to the one already established with the Ramsay Lake Algae Watch?
  3. VRS requests that private water intakes along the Vermilion River and its connecting lakes be included in NDCA’s Source Water Protection Risk Assessment protocol, and are formally included under the Clean Water Act.
  4. VRS requests NDCA develop a plan to adequately deal with reduction of risks, and that these risks be considered and included in the Source Water Protection Risk Assessment Report.

Many shoreline residents who rely on the Vermilion River system for their drinking water and household needs were extremely distressed and inconvenienced with the Cyanobacteria outbreak which occurred during the month of October, and VRS is requesting action be taken to avoid similar or more serious problems in the future.

VRS looks forward to your reply.

Linda Heron
Chair, Vermilion River Stewardship
CC: Nick Benkovich, Director Water/Waste Water –
Judy Sewell, Project Co-ordinator –
Jacques Barbeau, Councillor Ward 4 –
France Gelinas, NDP, MPP –
Chief Steven Miller, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek –
Stephen Monet, City of Sudbury –
Stephen Butcher, Chair, GSWA –
Perry Sarvas, Simon Lake Community Stewardship Group –

i Eutrophication and Recovery in Experimental Lakes: Implications for Lake Management, by D.W. Schindler, Fisheries & Marine Services, Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
ii Greater Sudbury Source Protection Assessment – Amended Property Assessment Report, Table 5.7, P 5-14

Download letter.

Cyanobacteria Bloom in Lake Erie – an EcoJustice Report

View of the toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie from space (NASA)

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.

Lively/Walden Waste Water Treatment Facilities undergoing a Class “C” Environmental Assessment

The Lively/Walden Waste Water Treatment Facilities are in Phase 3 of a Class “C” Environmental Assessment, and Consultants are very close to taking their preferred plan to City Council for their approval.   I was asked to make a presentation to the Lake Advisory Panel on October 13, 2011, and I have included my presentation for your information.