Aerial view of the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant
The Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant sits on the shores of Lake Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Regional Municipality of Durham.

Durham Region and York Region announced that they are proceeding with the proposed treatment enhancements at the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Pickering, Ontario, after receiving approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) for the Class Environmental Assessment (EA) to Assess Outfall Capacity Limitations.

The Duffin Creek plant is jointly owned by Durham and York Regions and treats wastewater from residents and businesses in the Town of Ajax, the City of Pickering and York Region.

According to John Presta, director of environmental services for Durham Region, the Duffin Creek plant has “the lowest phosphorus discharge limits of any plant discharging to the open waters of Lake Ontario”, while also limiting its greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2013, a Class EA recommending optimizations of existing processes at the Duffin Creek Plant to operate at a treatment capacity of at least 630 megalitres per day was reviewed by the province.

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Durham Region said that following requests to bump up the Class EA to an Individual EA, Durham and York regions prepared a Phosphorus Reduction Action Plan (PRAP) and submitted it to the province for review.

The PRAP Study was prepared by CH2M HILL Canada (now Jacobs) in January 2018 and it recommended secondary treatment optimization and modifying the outfall with variable diffuser ports to reduce total phosphorus concentrations. The study determined that this option met regulations and was far cheaper than tertiary treatment options such as membrane filtration or ballasted flocculation.

Now, Durham Region said the province has approved the Class EA and Phosphorus Reduction Action Plan.

“We will meet all requirements outlined by the Ministry, and we look forward to establishing an advisory committee to help us implement our Phosphorous Reduction Action Plan,” said Susan Siopis, commissioner of works for Durham Region, in a press release.

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