Combined sewer system must be a higher priority
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/08/2021 (664 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On July 22, there was a 44-minute discharge of an estimated 0.096 megaLitres of untreated sewage into the Red River at the Munroe pumping station.
That’s 96,000 litres of raw sewage. This incident was caused by a water main break and contributed to the 12 billion litres of raw sewage that pours into the Red and Assiniboine annually, mainly because of large wet weather events that cause wastewater and sewage to overflow our combined drainage system.
The City of Winnipeg, in its 2022 budget process, is looking at raising its annual investment to reduce combined sewer overflows to $45 million from $30 million starting in 2023. It’s moving in this direction in response to a provincial directive to act on an agreed to target of an ‘85 per cent combined sewer overflow volume capture.’
The problem is, at this rate of funding, such modest goals won’t be reached until by 2095. That’s not good enough. The city needs the support of the province and the dederal government if Winnipeg homeowners are going to be properly protected from property damage, including basement flooding, and help address the environmental damage caused by phosphorus accumulating in Lake Winnipeg.
Separating our combined sewer system is going to cost $2.3 billion according to the City’s 2017 Master Plan. It’s a big project, just like the $1.8 billion North End sewage treatment plant, and we have to get started on it now, just like the three levels of government are doing on the treatment plant
These sewage discharges are commonplace and caused by unplanned events such as water main breaks and power failures. Some notable ones have occurred right here in Elmwood, including a massive 1.5 megalitre wastewater discharge at the Linden Pump station, equivalent to half an Olympic swimming pool, in October 2019. A power failure caused that one.
An even earlier discharge in 2016 caused by construction blockage led to a massive five-million-litre, 10-day-long raw sewage dump, enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools, pouring sewage underneath the ice on the Red River right across from Elmwood’s Glenelm area.
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Elmwood constituency report
Jim Maloway is the NDP MLA for Elmwood.