Septic issue still burbling near schools

Anmore Green Estates has been given an extension to April Fool's Day to deal with a foul problem.

B.C.'s Ministry of Environment gave the strata housing complex in Anmore until April 1 to deal with its failed septic field, which is leaching water contaminated with fecal coliform and E. coli onto neighbouring properties at Eagle Mountain middle and Heritage Mountain secondary schools. 

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But the president of the housing complex’s strata says a solution isn’t imminent.

Robert Boies said so far, efforts “to engage with those with the authority to make this go away,” including the village of Anmore, the city of Port Moody, School District 43 and the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Discharge District (GVS&DD), have proved fruitless.

“It continues to be frustrating,” Boies said.

In January, the strata submitted an engineering report to the ministry outlining the problems with the septic field that services Anmore Green’s 51 properties after it was issued a pollution-abatement order last November when the contamination was detected near the schools during routine soil testing. The report, prepared by S. Graham Engineering and Geology Inc., said the “only practical and feasible option” to stop the leaks of contaminated water is to connect the strata to Port Moody’s municipal sewer system about 60 metres away.

The ministry originally gave the strata a deadline of March 1 to submit a formal report outlining the steps it has taken to fix the problem as well as a long-term plan to address the source of the pollution.

But March 5, the deadline was extended to April because of Anmore Green’s “difficulties and delays in pursing a connection to a nearby municipal sewage trunk line with the respective agencies,” according to ministry spokesperson David Karn, adding the ministry “is hopeful that a solution to this issue will be proposed by the April 1st deadline.”

But Boies said there’s little sign that is happening.

“None of the parties are prepared to talk about it,” he said.

Anmore Mayor John McEwen said the village “respects that this is a ministry-led process and that we await their determination of how they will work with Anmore Green Estates to bring them into compliance with the necessary regulations to protect the environment and human health.”

The entire village is on septic systems and it doesn’t belong to the GVS&DD, which administers municipal sewer systems and the cost of running them for all of Metro Vancouver. That cost is covered by annual membership fees to each member municipality and McEwen said Anmore’s residents aren’t interested in paying.

Boies said his strata’s offer of covering all the costs of the hookup as well as an annual surcharge to Port Moody’s GVS&DD membership fee still stands.

“All we would need from Anmore is a plumbing permit to run 22 m of pipe,” he said.

The onset of warmer weather is also hastening the need to resolve the problem. Boies said. Sections of the fencing the strata erected in December to keep people from the areas where contamination was detected have been breached by people taking shortcuts and he’s heard some complaints about an odour.

“If you dig down two or three inches, it stinks,” he said.

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