Phosphorous entering our waterways and getting into Lake Winnipeg is a primary cause of the large algal blooms that plaque the lake. Wednesday May 30, I asked the Minister for Sustainable Development what her timelines are for removing phosphorous from the City of Winnipeg's sewage - through the improvements at the North End Treatment Plant and the elimination of the combined sewers. My questions and the Minister's responses are below (from Hansard).
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): My question to the minister, it's one that I've asked before, so I'm hoping that I will get an answer.
As the minister knows, the biggest point source of phosphorus is the city of Winnipeg, and action to decrease phosphorus coming from the sewage in the city of Winnipeg is dependent on doing two things. The first is completing the North End treatment plant to the point where it removes phosphorus, and the second is addressing the combined sewer system. And my question is this: What does the minister see as her timeline for achieving the removal of phosphorus at the North End treatment plant and the timeline for addressing the combined sewer issue? Does the minister have a timeline at all, or can the minister specify what the timeline is?
Ms. Squires: So, on the combined sewer overflows, the member will probably note that in 2003, I believe, the CEC had requested the government of the day to do something about the combined sewer overflows. This is a challenge that jurisdictions all across the nation are faced with. Unfortunately, the former administration chose not to address the problem, and they ducked their heads in the sand and ignored it for several years.
And so our government has worked more closely. We're working with the City of Winnipeg and moving forward on a plan to upgrade all the combined sewer overflows. Every year, that work is commencing, and we are certainly moving forward with more aggressive targets than the former administration. Well, the former administration didn't have any targets; they didn't have a plan to upgrade the combined sewer overflows. And our plan is–and the exact timeline that we have given the City of Winnipeg on the combined sewer overflows–it escapes me right now, but I can get that for the member and I can provide him the letter that we had written to the City of Winnipeg on this issue, in November of 2017, giving them a very definitive timeline in which they needed to move forward with their combined sewer overflows.
Mr. Gerrard: The minister didn't talk about the North End treatment plant and the phosphorus removal from the North End 'pleatment'–treatment plant. Does the minister have a timeline for that?
Ms. Squires: One of the greatest joys that I have coming to work every day with this government is I get to work with all my colleagues, and we have developed a real rapport and a relationship. And it's just a joy for me to work with my colleagues, and I know the member for Gimli (Mr. Wharton), the Municipal Relations Minister, he is in talks on a regular basis with the City of Winnipeg, and we are working together to bring these conversations to the forefront. They have been stalled out for many, many years and there has been no activity on the North End water pollution centre, and our government is moving forward.
So I don't have a timeline. This is–there's a lot of work to be done, but I can assure the member that this is something that we are moving on.