Report says sewer hookup only viable solution to Anmore Green’s septic problem

The MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam said he's hopeful an engineering report that concludes the only viable long-term solution to the ongoing leakage of contaminated water from Anmore Green Estates’ septic system is to hook the 51 properties into Port Moody’s municipal sewer system will provide the impetus to make that happen.

Rick Glumac said the  peer-reviewed report, which was submitted to the Ministry of the Environment last week as a requirement of the latest pollution abatement order issued to Anmore Green’s strata, largely rules out any repair or redesign of the septic fields to stop further leakage of water contaminated with fecal coliform and E. coli onto the property of Eagle Mountain middle school and Heritage Woods secondary school immediately below.

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“We had to get through this report to really understand whether there was a solution that is doable on site,” Glumac said. “It appears that’s not the case.”

The report, which was prepared by CTQ Consultants Ltd. and peer reviewed by Jeffrey Oland of Oland Engineering Ltd., said the only solution that is socially, environmentally and financially sustainable is to tie the Anmore housing development into Port Moody’s existing municipal sewer pipe about 60 metres away. 

“This system is the standard of modern urban communities and is by far the most reliable method of sewage collection and treatment,” said the report’s author, Matt Cameron.

He said other possible solutions — including repairing the existing septic fields, creating a new mounded septic system, building an onsite sewage treatment system or just pumping the sewage into trucks to be hauled off site — have a high risk of failing again or would just be too expensive to implement. The report also dismissed the possibility of rebuilding the septic system to the standards under which they had been originally permitted when it was built in the 1990s (those standards were revised in 2012).

“It is our belief that the most current regulations should govern our recommendation,” said the report, which was affirmed by Oland’s review.

“The ideal solution, providing the least risk to public health and environment, is connection to the municipal sewer system,” Oland said. “I encourage the political decision makers to do the right thing and find a way to make this happen.”

David Karn, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, said ministry staff are reviewing the latest report, which it ordered to appease any concerns about a previous engineering report commissioned by Anmore Green’s strata. That report also supported a connection to Port Moody’s sewer system.

Anmore Mayor John McEwen said the village council will be meeting to discuss the latest report and will then follow up with the ministry as well as Glumac. 

In a letter endorsed by council and sent last April to Dan Bings, the ministry’s operations manager, Anmore’s chief administrative officer called a direct connection by the housing development to Port Moody’s municipal sewer system an “unrealistic solution,” and reasserted the village’s commitment to not join the Metro Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District (MVS&DD), which administers municipal sewer systems and the cost of running them for all of Metro Vancouver. Juli Halliwell said Anmore residents would continue to be responsible for treating their own sewage on-site rather than share the cost of the annual dues required to belong to the MVS&DD.

Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay has said the city would accommodate a hook-up to its sewer system as long as the Anmore Green strata pays for it as well as any ongoing costs.

The vice-president of Anmore Green’s strata council, Brandie Roberts, told The Tri-City News her members are ready to do that and they already have engineering diagrams for the work that needs to be done as soon as bureaucratic hurdles are cleared.

“We want to get this done and behind us,” Roberts said, adding it’s now up to the various municipal, regional and provincial authorities to work together if that’s to happen before the next school year begins. 

A hillside field behind Eagle Mountain middle school has been off limits behind blue steel fencing since last Dec. 23 when it was erected to comply with a pollution-abatement order, which had been issued to Anmore Green Estates following the detection of contaminated ground water at the base of the hill last September.

Diane MacSporran, the president of the school’s parent advisory council, said fencing has been breached regularly by students taking shortcuts or just looking for a place to play. MacSporran said she’s hopeful the latest report’s recommendation for a sewer hookup will pave the way to a solution.

“I’m very confident things are moving forward,” she said.

Glumac said the clock is ticking.

“We still have to deal with the fall and when the rains come, causing the water table to rise,” he said. “I’m hopeful we can get to a short-term and a long-term solution. The safety of the kids is the most important thing.”

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