Hamilton completes 460 inspections in probe tied to 3 recent sewer leaks

A recent report says 407 of the 631 maintenance holes across Hamilton, Ont. have been inspected since the launch of a program in Dec. 2022 following the discovery of some sewer misconnections. Global News

Hamilton’s water department says just over 460 of some 630 sewer inspections have been completed as of the end of January in response to the recent discovery of misconnected sewers.

During a presentation at the city’s public works committee meeting this week, water director Nick Winters revealed 191 out of 292 combined sewer inspections had been completed, along with 216 out of 339 storm sewer probes.

The “risk-based” inspection pilot, launched Dec. 3, so far has found two sewage spills and seven critical regulators, overflows of combined sewage to protect backups during wet weather events.

Winters said the significance of the regulators were discoveries of connections not previously recorded by the city.

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“The report identifies … 407 of the 631 maintenance holes had been inspected, but I can update that as of February 10th … we’re up to 460 completed inspections,” Winters told councillors.

“We’re aiming to have the entire pilot completed by the end of April.”

Ontario issued orders to the City of Hamilton in mid-January demanding an extensive sampling program in response to a three sewer issues found in recent months on Burlington Street, Rutherford Avenue and Kinrade Avenue.

A notice from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) gives the city four deadlines to complete eight action items of an inspection program in 2023 with the last piece coming due at the end of June.

They include development of a storm and surface water sampling program identifying the nature of discharges into the environment and recommendations on an ongoing “risk-based inspection” program.

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Winter’s told councillors the water division is seeking to implement a “communications guideline” providing “transparency and consistency” upon the discovery of future sewage spills.

The tactics cover three different scenarios, spills from up to ten properties or 100 million litres of sewage, spills from from 11 to 49 properties or 101 million to 500 million litres of sewage, and 50 or more properties or over 500 million litres of sewage.

The spills would then be posted to a dedicated online map providing a public record of information.

“The other common processes will be notification of public health services, notification to the Ward Councillors office notification to the General Manager of Public Works Office, and the inclusion of any details in the city’s e-newsletter,” Winters explained.

Additionally, spills over 101 million litres would be posted publicly via the city’s social media channels and those over 500 million litres would result in a public press release and media conference.

In the latter scenario, remedial action partners would also be notified including the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the Mississauga’s the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River.

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The city is expected to submit the guidance document to the MECP for review by June 30.

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