The city has until Monday to submit a strategy to Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment to offset the impacts of the spill on the west harbour, including the Cootes Paradise marsh.
Hamilton’s response to the ministry order, an overview of which was presented to city councillors on Wednesday morning, includes a wide-ranging list of possible projects to improve water quality and prevent future degradation of the watershed.
Director of Water Andrew Grice says some of the recommended work, like better run-off management at Chedoke golf course to keep pesticides out the creek, “are relatively routine and can be carried out fairly quickly.”
Grice says other solutions will be subject to further analysis and a formal environmental assessment process and “it will be a few years, so to speak, before the shovel hits the road on some of these strategies.”
A floating wetland that would improve water quality in the harbour by sucking up excess nutrients is one such “high value” strategy, according to Grice, who also identifies an in-water aeration system and naturalization of Chedoke Creek as longer-term projects.
Other recommended projects to keep pollutants from the watershed include better salt management on nearby Highway 403 and various sewer system upgrades.
The province is already reviewing the city’s plan for targeted dredging within Chedoke Creek, a plan that was submitted ahead of a previous Feb. 22 deadline.
Grice stresses that the city’s response to the provincial orders is being prepared in “consultation” with various stakeholders, including Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC).
He says the central message they are getting from those stakeholders is, “it is time for action.”
The sewage spill happened — and went unnoticed for four years — after a gate on a combined sewer overflow tank was left partially open.