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Deadline looms to fix septic leak near Anmore school

More than three years after water contaminated with E coli and fecal coliform began surfacing near Eagle Mountain middle school in Anmore, a solution to fix the problem is imminent.
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A failed septic system above Eagle Mountain middle school has been leaching water contaminated with fecal coliform and E coli for more than three years.

The clock is ticking for homeowners at Anmore Green Estates.

A 60-day deadline to notify British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment of the strata’s plan to connect the 51-unit housing complex to Port Moody’s municipal sewer system expires this weekend.

In a letter dated Nov. 2, Braden Nelless, the director of compliance and environmental enforcement section of the ministry’s environmental protection division, said the connection is expected to be completed no later than April 5, 2021. He added as long as the strata indicates its plan for proceeding with the connection, the ministry won’t impose administrative penalties or “take other action under the Environmental Management Act.”

Those penalties could range from a warning to a fine up to $75,000.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed, as of Thursday, it had not received notification from AGE. The Tri-City News reached out a representative of the strata, but has yet to hear back. But in October, Brandie Roberts said the strata was struggling to secure financing to cover fees imposed by the village and school district, on top of engineering and construction costs homeowners had already agreed to pay.

In his letter, Nelless said all the pieces to allow the connection to happen are now in place, including: Updates to Anmore’s official community plan to allow for connections to the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District (GVS&DD) that administers sewers throughout the Lower Mainland; servicing agreements with the village of Anmore and city of Port Moody; a provincial Order In Council confirming Anmore’s membership in the GVSⅅ as well as an agreement from School District 43 to provide access to its property at Eagle Mountain middle school for construction to proceed.

Nelless said achieving all the components was “a result of significant effort from all parties involved.”

That effort included the appointment of a provincial facilitator late last year to help ease negotiations between the strata and the various levels of government that had achieved little traction since its septic system began failing in 2017, resulting in water contaminated with E. coli and fecal coliform surfacing at the foot of a hillside next to the school.

Since then, the hillside has been behind protective fencing erected by the AGE strata and then the school district, although parents expressed frustration that some students were still getting around it to take shortcuts to and from home.

A petition launched by Eagle Mountain’s parents advisory council last summer urging the sewage problem be fixed collected more than 3,500 signatures.