Winnipeg Sun to province: Make sewers election issue

Columnists | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun

MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

Over two-million litres of untreated sewage was discharged into the Assiniboine River last month over a five-day period.

It was the largest sewage overflow in Winnipeg since the city’s massive sewage spill in 2002.

That’s on top of 17 smaller spills that occurred this year between March and April.

It’s all due to Winnipeg’s outdated combined sewer system, which diverts raw sewage into our rivers every time it rains, during spring runoff and when pipes get clogged, like they did last month.

Despite that, there was nothing in the Selinger government’s master plan released last week to “save Lake Winnipeg” that deals with the city’s combined sewer problem.

In fact, it doesn’t even mention it.

I don’t get that.

On May 20, the city’s 311 service got an e-mail at 2:11 p.m. that reported a raw sewage discharge into Sturgeon Creek near Lonsdale Drive just west of Grace General Hospital.

Unfortunately, the 311 system broke down and raw sewage poured into the creek and river for nearly five days without the city responding to it. You might want to look into this one, Sam.

The wastewater collection branch wasn’t notified until Wednesday May 25 — following a long-weekend — and a crew was eventually dispatched that day.

They found a blockage of grease and rags in the sewer that caused raw sewage to build up and overflow into the creek.

It was a major screw-up — and a lot crap that went into our rivers and lakes.

“Lag time between notification and resolution due to oversight in internal protocol,” the city’s incident report says. “Response process reviewed and will be improved for future similar events.”

Let’s hope so.

But better than that, why doesn’t the provincial government take the lead on this and sit down with the city to hammer out a funding deal that would fix this problem over time?

Read the rest of the article


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