A pair of projects will get underway sooner than expected that's hopeful of reducing overflows and cloggings in Burquitlam's sewer system.
Funding was recently advanced by Coquitlam city council to soon start upgrades along North Road, Como Lake Avenue and in the Southwest Austin Heights area in an effort to be prepared for any future extreme rainfall events.
Several hundreds of millimetres of rain from atmospheric river events and heavy storms this past fall resulted in sewage backups and localized flooding, and environmental concerns for fish-bearing streams, including Stoney Creek.
In a release today (March 1), city utilities director Jonathan Helmus explains Coquitlam's sanitary sewer system is designed to move wastewater and sewage from properties to regional treatment plants, but there's also a separate drainage system designed to collect and safely disperse rainfall.
"To protect the system, Coquitlam is expanding its ongoing I&I [inflow and infiltration] work to monitor sewer flow levels, conduct pipe video and maintenance hole inspections, replace or rehabilitate aging infrastructure and use non-toxic fog or dye to check for leaks," Helmus says.
"The city will also focus on incorrect sewer connections on private properties, such as when drainage is attached to the sanitary sewer rather than the storm sewer."
The sewer upgrades are expected to begin in the weeks ahead.
The city says the projects' costs won't impact taxpayer dollars — long- or short-term — and are set to be financed through a reserve account via development cost charges (DCCs). Fees are to be paid by developers.
SO, WHAT CAN I DO?
As well, experts will soon be going door-to-door to educate property owners in Southwest Austin Heights and the Stoney Creek neighbourhood about the effects of wet-weather sanitary sewer overflows.
This includes information on how to reduce inflow and infiltration.
Roughly half of Coquitlam's sewer system is on private property, meaning it's up to the owners to maintain that infrastructure.
Damaged pipes need to be fixed or replaced, Helmus says, and roof and foundation drains must be properly connected.
The City of Coquitlam lists the following tips to owners:
- Have pipes inspected with a camera by a plumber or drainage specialist at least once a decade
- Ensure roof and foundation drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer line (in areas without modern storm sewer connections, the City provides assistance on a case-by-case basis)
- Avoid planting water-loving trees and shrubs on top of sewer lines or drain pipes, where roots could cause damage
- Keeping catch basins near their property free of leaves and debris, or signing up for the City’s Adopt a Catch Basin volunteer program to help ensure that only rain goes down the drain
For more information, you can visit the catch basin page of Coquitlam's website.