January 31, 2016 8:24 pm
Updated: February 1, 2016 12:19 pm

UPDATE: City could spend up to $4.1 billion to fix sewage problems

This culvert was found to be leaking untreated sewage into the Red River in January.

Adrian Cheung/Global News

WINNIPEG — The city has a committee looking into water and waste in light of recent events.

Earlier this month, the City of Winnipeg reported a leak of five million litres of untreated sewage into the Red River. That is the equivalent of two Olympic sized swimming pools.

RELATED: Millions of litres of raw sewage dumped into Red River

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The problem was not alerted to the city until a nearby resident reported the odor and witnessed flowing water in a portion of the ice near St. John’s Park that should have been frozen.

The city said the leak was due to a blockage in a main culvert of lumber and construction material.

Councillor Brian Mayes is the chairperson of the committee. He along with three other councilors are meeting with officials from Water and Waste and Planning, Property and Development on Monday morning.

A report heading to the meeting, called the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Master Plan Preliminary Proposal, gives five options for controlling sewer overflows. It includes updating the system to capture 85 per cent of overflows, allowing four overflows a year, no more than four overflows a year, zero overflows a year and complete sewer separation.

The 600-page report says the most expensive option could end up costing the city more than $4.1 billion. The least expensive option is estimated to range in cost, from $830 million to $1.2 billion (taking in the project’s margin of error for cost estimates).

“It is an enormous concern that we’re still dumping raw sewage,” said Mayes. “How often does that happen, what steps are we taking to improve that situation?”

“We’ll be asking all those questions to the water and waste staff.”

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