Public works finds another misconnection dumping stormwater, wastewater into Hamilton harbour

On Jan. 7, 2022, Hamilton water say a "risk-based" inspection program discovered a cross connected sewer on Rutherford Avenue at Myrtle Avenue in Ward 3 that's been dumping sewage and stormwater into Hamilton harbour for potentially decades. Global News

Hamilton’s public works department says it’s found another combined stormwater and sewage misconnection in the water system affecting a city centre neighbourhood.

In a media briefing on Monday, the city’s manager of water said the problem was discovered Saturday during a “risk-based” inspection program in an area around Rutherford & Myrtle Avenues in Ward 3.

Nick Winters said staff have not yet determined how many litres of combined wastewater has been deposited into Hamilton harbour but expects to reveal a number in the future.

He said the misconnection dates back to work done 27 years ago and that 11 residential properties have been discharging the wastewater.

“Based on our preliminary investigation and consultation of city records, it looks like a 100-year-old combined sewer pipe was connected into a newly constructed storm sewer during a city-led construction project in 1996,” Winters explained.

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The city notified the Ministry of the Environment of the circumstance just before 2 p.m. on Monday.

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Winters says samples of the water have been collected from the location and expects some preliminary results next week on what leaked into the harbour and potential impact to the environment.

“I would imagine that it’s probably about a fifth the size of what we saw with the sewage leak from last November,” Winters told Global News.

Steps have been taken to mitigate the flow for the time being using a vacuum truck now on site removing the combined sewage.

It’s expected to be on site providing short term action until at least early next week, according to Winters.

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In late November, the city said it would be proactively exploring other potential misconnections across Hamilton following the discovery of a hole in a storm sewer that had been dumping wastewater from 39 north-end properties into Hamilton Harbour for close to 26 years.

Staff estimated up to 337 million litres of sewage was discharged into the waterway over that time from homes in the Burlington and Wentworth area.

Winters characterized that wrong connection as an “anomaly” but later told Global News there could be many others in the city.

“If we were going to be required by the ministry to video inspect every meter of sanitary or combined sewer pipe in the city of Hamilton, it would probably take at least five years and we’d need at least ten additional staff in order to deliver a program like that,” Winters said.

Carlyle Khan, general manager of Public Works said the November hole was discovered via a review of closed circuit TV (CCTV) files made by a contractor in 2013 as part of a broader inspection program and filed in a city archive.

So far, city staff have done 151 inspections since early December in an inspection pilot program reponding to that occurence.

Mayor Andrea Horwath says conversations about the city’s infrastructure needs, including water, are underway with councillors and that they could be “augmented” depending on future needs.

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Winters estimates November’s excursion to fix issues at Burlington and Wentworth cost the city some $15,000.

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