Lake Ontario’s Dirty Secret

Ecological (Meso) Factors

The biggest threats to Lake Ontario come from urban development, electricity generation, and pollution. Specifically sewage and stormwater pollution. Currently nine million people rely on Lake Ontario for drinking water and it is currently the most threatened Great Lake.

The biggest areas of concern (from Canada’s side) around Lake Ontario are Hamilton Harbour, Toronto and Region, Port Hope Harbour, and Bay of Quinte.

Environment Canada reports that there are currently low concentrations of toxic chemicals in offshore waters, but not all water quality guidelines are being met. The overall water quality trend is deteriorating. Productive food webs rely on phosphorus concentrations and those levels are becoming too low in some lakes. The concentrations of mercury are increasing in fish in some areas of the lakes, after years of steady decline.

Why are these water quality guidelines not being met? This goes back to the biggest threats that were previously listed.

Urban development around Lake Ontario — especially the biggest areas of concern — is hazardous to overall water quality and impacts the way we view the Lake as a therapeutic space.

It’s been expressed how water quality has been impacted by development in Toronto, but what about development of the rest of the shore cities in Ontario? How has development and the resulting ecological impacts, affected how Ontarians view their Great Lake?