Hamilton launches new sewer overflow notification system


Published November 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

The City of Hamilton has a new system for keeping residents informed about potential sewer backups.

The City of Hamilton has a new system for keeping residents informed about potential sewer backups.

On Monday (Oct. 4) the Public Works Committee was presented with an enhanced public notification protocol for ‘bypasses’ at the wastewater treatment plant or at combined sewer overflow locations.

The first phase of the enhanced public notification protocol was launched Monday and includes notifications on the City’s website if there is a bypass at the wastewater treatment plant.

Bypasses typically occur in extreme wet weather, when the amount of wastewater entering the system exceeds the capacity of the treatment plant.

The City currently has nine large storage tanks in strategic locations to hold excess water during heavy rainfall.

These combined sewer overflow tanks hold more than 314,000 cubic metres of diluted wastewater.

During extreme wet weather events, the combined sewer overflow tanks will fill and store the excess water. If the tanks reach their full capacity, they will overflow into Hamilton Harbour.

In 2018, there were 17 reported bypasses at the Woodward Wastewater Treatment plant resulting in a bypass volume of 1868 ml of water overflowing into the harbour. This plant is currently in the midst of a massive $340 million upgrade.

These measures, the city of Hamilton says on their website, are designed to help prevent homes and business from experiencing sewer backups.

The second part of the enhanced public notification process will launch in spring 2020 and will include automated notifications for bypasses at the treatment plant, and overflows at the City’s combined sewer overflow outfall locations.

Similarly, these overflow locations are active when the amount of combined wastewater exceeds the sewer capacity. Phase two will also include historical records of previous bypasses and overflows where the information is available.

In addition to the enhanced public notification protocol, City staff also launched an educational video to help explain how combined sewer systems work.

Combined sewer systems are common in older cities like Hamilton. Constructing combined sewers was the accepted building practice for over 100 years, with most older major cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Windsor having large combined sewer systems.

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