Let’s get serious about separating our combined sewer system
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/08/2022 (275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
All three levels of government must get more serious about separating our combined sewer system.
Last August’s 44-minute discharge of 96,000 litres of raw sewage into the Red River at the Munroe pumping station is a regular occurrence. Just this March, more than 78 million litres of diluted sewage was dumped into the Assiniboine River, the largest in five years. Dumps like these are just one part of the 12 billion litres of raw sewage that pour into Winnipeg’s rivers annually. Wet weather events, water main breaks, and power failures at pumping stations remain the three culprits causing wastewater and sewage to overflow our combined drainage system, leaving Winnipeg residents vulnerable to property damage, including basement flooding.
This year will be our wettest year ever. We’ve already had 24 separate rainfall events resulting in overflows of sewage into our rivers and onward to Lake Winnipeg.
June’s provincial review of Winnipeg’s Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan noted little action by the city on this file. The per cent capture of volume overflow actually remained the same in 2021. This isn’t progress by any measure. The review also revealed there was no attempt by the city to secure funds to comply with the provincial directive that targets ‘85 per cent combined sewer overflow volume capture’ by 2045. At the current rate of funding, we won’t hit that target until 2095. Winnipeg residents deserve better.
It’s time for the province and the federal government to step up and assist the city. It was doable for the North End Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade and it’s doable for the separation of our combined sewer system. Separating our sewer system will reduce the phosphorus fueling Lake Winnipeg, like the treatment plant’s Phase 2, plus it will better protect Winnipeg residents from property damage and flooded basements.
Separating our combined sewage system is going to cost upwards of $2.3 billion. It’s a substantial project like the North End Sewage Treatment Plant. But make no mistake about it, if we don’t reach our modest targets the result will be far greater costs, and more damage down the road.
If you have any questions about other provincial programs, feel free to contact me at 204-415-1122 or email me at Jim.Maloway@yourmanitoba.ca
Elmwood constituency report
Jim Maloway is the NDP MLA for Elmwood.