Homes on Gosper Crescent, which runs next to Esquimalt Gorge Park, are among those involved in Township discussions about cross contamination of sewer and storm water systems. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Esquimalt not the only municipality with sewage problems

But half the township’s infill and infiltration issues are on private property

Esquimalt has been addressing crossed sewage and storm pipes on public property in the municipality for years, but more than half the problems will need to be addressed by private property owners.

According to a staff report released in December this month, both public and private pipes contribute equally to inflow and infiltration problems, and 55 per cent of the length of Esquimalt sewers are on private property. Smoke testing completed almost ten years ago – where smoke-filled air is blown through the sanitary sewer lines to identify leaks – found approximately 400 potential sanitary-storm mains on private properties, an issue that was recently revealed could result in residents footing a multi-million-dollar bill to fix it.

While this is not the only municipality facing sewage problems, Mayor Barb Desjardins said she believes the Township is being proactive, and that hers is the first that is “looking at this seriously,” that being addressing line crosses on private property. The Township began investigating Esquimalt’s sewers and addressing issues in public spaces earlier. From 2005 to 2009, they relined municipal mains, upgraded pump stations, separated manholes, installed a portable pump station in the case of a power outage, and conducted smoke testing for the entire collection system.

RELATED: Fixing Esquimalt’s sewage, storm drain cross contamination could cost millions

Esquimalt isn’t the first to address sewage problems on private property. Oak Bay has been mandated to update its sanitary systems to separate sanitary and stormwater flows for some 600 homes in the Uplands neighbourhood, and is already moving forward with installing this system in phases over the next 20 years.

RELATED: Contractor sends raw sewage onto Saanich streets

But for some residents, like Sean MacÚisdin, he doesn’t think the focus on Esquimalt sewage problems seems fair when other municipalities are facing similar issues.

“It often feels like Esquimalt is a whipping boy for regional issues,” he said. “Instead of focusing on a municipality, focus on the issue itself, which is old infrastructure.”

MacÚisdin said the area’s cross-contamination problems are significant, but unless people are willing to foot significant tax increases or take service cuts, progress will be slow and steady. As a homeowner, he accepts that he may have to foot part of the bill.

“In the end, as a homeowner I have to plan for these things. I would hope that I could work with the municipality and make it not sting quite as much, but ultimately it does have to be done,” he said.

As to who would foot the bill, and the eight to 20 years it could take to complete, he said there needs to be a balanced approach in addressing the sanitation issues and cost to fix them.

“If the municipality’s going to turn around tomorrow and say either we’re going to jack up property taxes or cut services and get this done as soon as possible… in any municipality that would raise a lot of questions.”

RELATED: Uplands sewer separation moves forward

The smoke testing also found 63 storm services connected to sanitary, and 111 combined manholes. From 2010 to 2015, 47 catch basins were disconnected from sanitary mains or confirmed they were connected to the storm drain system. In that same period, the Township dye-tested five homes, and separated 84 combined manholes.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

 

Homes on Gosper Crescent, next to Esquimalt Gorge Park, are among those involved in Township discussions about cross contamination of sewer and storm water systems. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Just Posted

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

Free-B Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Head to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see some family favourites on the big screen

Central Saanich accused of not following Climate Emergency declaration with urgent action

Motion to research climate response options and costs rejected then rescheduled in tense meeting

Join North Saanich invasives removal and experience three key benefits

Friends of North Saanich Parks says July 27 clear-up will be rewarding as well as green

Esquimalt gives six-storey rental complex the green light

A new apartment building is set to go up on Admirals Road

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read