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

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

ROCK THE SHORES 2018: A variety of musical flavours throughout weekend in Colwood

Headliners Brian Wilson, Sheepdogs and X Ambassadors part of diverse lineup festival

Chronic disease no obstacle for ultra-cyclist

Cross-Canada ride raises funds for Crohn’s disease

Saanich set to crack down on overnight camping in parks

Local community leader says new measures promise to protect Cuthbert Holmes Park

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Saanich mayor says results of amalgamation referendum are not predictive

Mayor Richard Atwell warns against reading too much into the outcome of… Continue reading

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Amalgamation fails in North Cowichan and Duncan

North Cowichan says yes, but Duncan says no

Most Read