Another Hamilton sewage spill likely after construction error


Published January 27, 2023 at 4:52 pm

Residents of about 30 homes in rural Hamilton are receiving bottled water while the city investigates a “likely” spill — that occurred while a new sewer was being built.

In a release on Friday afternoon, the City of Hamilton acknowledged a new-found spill in the Golf Club Rd/ Fletcher Rd. area, where work is taking place on a trunk sewer that is being built to support the employment district around Hamilton’s airport.

The city’s self-disclosed Burlington St. and Rutherford Ave. sewage spills in the lower city both involved incorrectly connected pipes that sent untreated household wastewater into a storm sewer and into Hamilton Harbour. This instance was triggered by a contractor’s error on Monday (Jan. 23), which led to a discovery about a possible lack of due diligence when the forcemain was forsaken.

“A contractor working on behalf of the City of Hamilton struck an abandoned sewer forcemain and caused a spill,” a statement says.

Vacuum truck operators were at the site that day. Results from a sample that was collected for lab analysis are expected to be released early next week, the city says.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks spills action centre was also called on Monday. Hamilton Water’s EME unit (environmental monitoring and enforcement) went out the next day to investigate.

“It was expected that the abandoned sewer had filled with groundwater over time, and that the spilled liquid was not harmful,” the city states.

“Upon further investigation, it was determined on January 26, 2023 that the abandoned sewer had not been flushed prior to its abandonment, and therefore it is likely that some sewage was present in the spill.

“Residents at nearby properties were informed about the spill. As a precaution, nearby properties on wells will receive bottled water until sample results are available.

The city outlined additional steps to investigate potential harms to drinking water or the environment:

  • Conduct groundwater quality testing at properties where possible between Hwy. 56 and Fletchers Road;
  • Visits to the approximately 30 houses between 3109 and 3667 Golf Club Rd. to make arrangements to have a water quality sample collected in the next several days for comparison to the Provincial drinking water standards;
  • Hamilton Public Health will review the results from well samples once received;
  • A soil inspection and sampling program where the spill occurred
  • Surface water samples will be collected from the nearest downstream tributary and submitted for analysis of E. Coli / microbiology and ammonia in comparison to the applicable Provincial Water Quality Objectives.

The equivalent of 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools (396 million litres) flowed into Hamilton Harbour over the nearly 26 years that the incorrect cross-connections at Burlington St. and Rutherford Ave. went undetected.

Last week, MECP ordered Hamilton to come up with a comprehensive plan to stop sewage leaks from occurring. On Feb. 13, Hamilton Water is expected to tell councillors on the Public Works committee how it will aim to meet the province’s deadlines.

The work that was taking place is part of the Dickenson Rd. sanitary trunk sewer (STS) construction project. It is one of a series of trunk sewers that was recommended in the city’s water and wastewater master plan.

The Dickenson Rd. STS, when completed, will be 10 km long and between four to 15 metres deep. It will go between Golf Club Rd. between Trinity Church Rd. to Hwy. 56; Trinity Church Rd. from Dickenson Rd. to Golf Club Rd.; and beneath Dickenson Rd. from Upper James St. to Trinity Church Rd.

(Cover image: Google Street View.)

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