River Water Quality
Deshkan Ziibi (also known as Antler River or The Thames River) is a Canadian Heritage River, and is surrounded by a watershed the same size as P.E.l. It flows into Lake St. Clair and eventually into Lake Erie. London is situated midway along this watershed and is the largest urban centre.
As a city that is over 150 years old, combined sewers (containing both stormwater and wastewater) is an infrastructure legacy that is incrementally being separated and fixed. About 10 km of combined sewers still exist in older neighbourhoods around the city. Annual infrastructure improvement projects that separate several kms each year, are planned with the goal of complete sewer separation by 2026, and faster if upper level government funding was available.
In the meantime, stormwater entering the combined system can overload the system causing flows to be only partially treated and/or rerouted into relief overflow sewers or at pumping stations into the river in order to prevent sewer back-ups and residential basement flooding. Extreme weather events can exacerbate the situation adding stormwater to the flow into wastewater treatment facilities who do not have the capacity to deal with all the added water. This negatively impacts river water quality, the river ecosystems, and potentially the neighbouring communities down river. Solutions to these issues are being tackled by separating sewers, making improvements to wastewater treatment capacity, as well as addressing homeowner downspout disconnections to the sewers and installing raingardens and low impact developments.
To access over 40 years of water quality data within the City Limits, refer to annual quality reports within the Open Data portal posted online. For overall watershed health of the upper watershed check out the Upper Thames River conservation Authority's Watershed Report Cards which are published every 5 years.
Get involved in water projects with Antler River Rally, UTRCA, ALUS Middlesex, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, or Thames River Anglers Association. Be good water stewards by examining your property for low cost water improvements by taking steps to Slow it down, Soak it up and Keep it clean.
- City of London Wastewater Treatment Plant Master Plan – in progress (2020)
- “Neighbourhood Waterways from your Doorstep to the Thames River” brochure (2018)
- London Fish & Paddle Guide (2017)
- In January 2020, 68 million liters of sewage entered the river system due to an extreme weather event.