Coquitlam has launched a new grant program to encourage property owners to replace their old sewer connections, starting with the Stoney Creek neighbourhood.
Approved by council earlier this week, the Private Sanitary Connection Rehabilitation Grant Program will provide eligible property owners with grants to replace aging sewer connections.
The grants will pay 25 per cent of the cost — up to $2,000 — to replace sewer connections that are at least 30 years old and confirmed to be in poor condition.
Information about the grant program will be posted at www.coquitlam.ca/sewergrant.
To prevent sewer overflows
Unique in Metro Vancouver, the new grant program is part of the city’s effort to reduce inflow and infiltration (I&I), according to a city press release.
Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) happens when water enters the sanitary sewer system through damaged sewer mains, pipes and other fixtures, or improperly connected roof or foundation drains on private properties.
“Extreme weather in recent years is contributing to increasing I&I, which can lead to sewer backups, basement flooding, overflows into fish-bearing streams and higher sewer treatment costs,” the city press release states.
Residents have complained about sewage overflows multiple times, including during heavy rains earlier in the year.
According to the city, roughly half of the sewer system is located on private property.
“While the city inspects and maintains the municipal sewer system, sewer connections on private property are the responsibility of owners and are not regulated or managed to the same level. An inspection of 52 private connections in the Stoney Creek catchment earlier this year revealed that almost half of the connections had deficiencies leading to I&I,” the press release further stated.
The new grant program is intended to encourage property owners to replace their aging sewer connections while also raising awareness in the community about sewer ownership responsibilities.
Stoney Creek property owners targeted first
The first round of grants will target a portion of the Stoney Creek catchment, which is shared between Metro Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam and Port Moody and has experienced several sewer overflows during heavy rainfall.
Qualifying properties must be within the designated grant program area, have a sewer connection that is at least 30 years old, and not be the subject of an active development application.
Applicants may access the grant in two ways:
- Owners may independently replace their sewer connection and request an inspection from the city’s Plumbing Division.
- If the city is planning upgrades to the adjacent municipal system, the city will offer to coordinate the private sewer connection replacement at the same time and collect the payment from the owner, including the grant discount.
A total of $150,000 in grants of up to $2,000 will be available to up to 75 properties and will be funded through the city’s sewer replacement reserve fund.
As sewer connections are replaced, the city’s flow-monitoring equipment will measure the program’s success in reducing I&I.
Staff will also continue to inspect other private sewer connections around the community and assess the feasibility of expanding the grant program to other areas.
Property owner responsibilities
Here’s what the city says about property owner responsibilities:
About half of the sewer system is located on private property. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sewer infrastructure on their land, including fixing or replacing old or damaged pipes and making sure roof and foundation drains are properly connected.
Property owners are encouraged to:
- 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;
- Avoid planting water-loving trees and shrubs on top of sewer lines or drain pipes, where roots could cause damage; and
- Keep catch basins near their property free of leaves and debris, or sign up for the City’s Adopt a Catch Basin volunteer program to help ensure that only rain goes down the drain (learn more at www.coquitlam.ca/adoptacatchbasin).