Saturday, January 28, 2017


Back on January 12/17 the Waterloo Region Record published the following story titled "Cleaner water means fewer intersex fish in Grand River". While this is essentially a good news story I still find it horrifying. In 2012 and obviously previously prior, the incidents of "intersex" fish ie. fish with both male and female traits was severe below Kitchener's sewage treatment plant (STP) near Doon. "It's one of the worst cases around the globe of this kind of response" stated Mark Servos from the University of Waterloo.

Rainbow darters , a common small fish below the STP, had up to 100% of their population with both male and female characteristics. "Within one year of the upgrades (STP), the proportion of intersex males dropped from 100 per cent in some areas to 29 per cent. After three years, the numbers dropped below the upstream levels of less than 10 per cent.". This is the good news: namely that horrible pollution of our Heritage River now only has 10 % of these fish with mutations?

The cause of these problems is endocrine disruption caused by chemicals flushed down our toilets. These chemicals include birth control pills and other chemicals which mimic natural hormones.

So part of the moral of this story is what we've long known and that is that relying on end of pipe treatment is not enough. If pharmaceuticals are getting by our treatment processes think how many other industrial chemicals are doing the same. I've long known that sewage treatment plants euphemistically called wastewater treatment plants only do a partial job. Just because treatment technologies are improving does not remotely mean that our regional politicians automatically agree to spend the money for upgrades. Do you really believe that the new improved treatment since 2013 was just invented the day before? Hardly. Afterall spending on LRT is sexy and a legacy project for our current crop of politicians. Instead of naming a downtown building after Carl Zehr imagine naming a sewage treatment plant after him. You get the picture.

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