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City reveals 337 million litres of wastewater went into Hamilton harbour from hole in sewage line

Photo of crews hired by the city of Hamiton, Ont. to repair a recently dicovered sewage hole that leaked wastewater into Hamilton harbour over 26 years. Global News

The city of Hamilton says up to 337 million litres of sewage was discharged into the Hamilton Harbour over 26 years from a combined sewer hole discovered in late November near Burlington and Wentworth streets.

On Monday, city staff revealed the estimate after calculating water meter usage data for all of the properties connected to the sewer.

“There were several ways city staff could calculate the overall estimated volume of wastewater discharged into the Hamilton Harbour, but this methodology was identified as the most accurate representation of the discharge over the time period,” spokesperson Emily Trotta wrote in a release.

Repair work and realignment of the sewer were completed as of Wednesday at a cost of around $30,000.

Late last week, Ontario’s environment ministry (MECP) told Global News it will require the City of Hamilton to undertake an audit of its sewage infrastructure.

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That initiative was revealed after environment minister David Piccini conveyed his “anger” about the discovery to the legislature at Queen’s Park on Thursday, characterizing the find as “absolutely unacceptable.”

MECP spokesperson Gary Wheeler told Global News in an email that the scope of the “comprehensive assessment” is yet to be defined but suggested it would be a “significant undertaking” and a “multi-year initiative.”

“(It) will include identifying illegal cross connections and then develop a plan to eliminate sewage discharges that could impact the environment,” Wheeler wrote.

A spokesperson for the city says it had yet to receive any such orders as of Monday morning.

Hamilton’s director of water had told Global some sort of inspection process for the city’s 2,100 kilometres of sewers will need to be created going forward “from a risk-based perspective.”

“Things like, … How quickly can we get that done? And what are the costs and resource needs?” Nick Winters explained.

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath told Global News she’s spoken to Minister Piccini and is looking forward to “proactive work” with partners.

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