In Open Letter to Ontario’s Environment Minister, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates Calls For Action On Niagara River Wastewater Overflows

From the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted August 23rd, 2018 on Niagara At Large

An Open Letter to Ontario Environment Minister  Rod Phillips

RE: Sewage Discharge in Niagara River

Dear Minister Phillips,   I am writing to you today regarding a serious environmental issue, which was raised with your predecessor as well as your counterparts in Niagara Falls, New York. Here in Niagara we are experiencing continual discharge of wastewater and raw sewage into the Lower Niagara River.

A year ago this past July, an overflow of pollution from the Niagara Falls, N.Y. wastewater plant left water in the Niagara River below the Horseshoe and American Falls looking like ink. Following heavy rains recently, it happened again, and there have also been overflows from the Ontario side. Is our aging municipal infrastructure for treating sewage and storm water failing us?

This issue has been ongoing for far too long and continues to threaten the health of our beloved Niagara River. Despite assurance from treatment plants in the New York State that no more discharges would occur we heard alarming news this morning that upwards of 8 million gallons of raw sewage was discharged.

The continued damaging of our River is nothing short of an environmental catastrophe. 

The Niagara River is a natural heritage landmark that defines the Niagara region and a prime driver of economic development, which tens of thousands rely on in the Region. Each year millions of visitors flock from around the world to experience the wonders of the beautiful Niagara River and these continual discharges threaten that experience. 

You may remember the most prominent of these discharges, which occurred during high tourist season here in the Falls. As visitors were taking in the sites and sounds of the River the water turned black as the sewage covered it. Photos from that day were splashed across international media.

There is far more to protect than just the economy that surrounds the river. Residents across my riding use the water to swim, fish and spend their leisure time. None of this can occur when their beloved river is filled with foul smelling raw sewage. We have a responsibility to protect this River for the generations of children that will inherit it after us. We owe it to them to ensure that they have a usable River just as we have.

I am asking you to do more than your predecessor and act immediately. I am asking you to reach out to your federal counterpart and counterparts in Niagara Falls, New York and find a way to ensure this never happens again to our beautiful natural heritage feature. I am also asking you to send staff down to the River and inspect the water to ensure that lasting damage hasn’t been done to it.    I believe this is of the utmost importance, not just for us, but for future generations. I would be happy to work alongside you in whatever capacity you deemed fit to protect the Niagara River.

I look forward to your reply. 

Wayne Gates, MPP Niagara Falls

To read a recent story on this matter, aired on CHCH TV in Hamilton, click on

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