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

Invasive crab spotted near Sooke

Fisheries need more data to know if numbers are increasing

Credit card frauds target local businesses: VicPD

Crime Reduction Unit investigating several frauds costing several businesses over $50,000

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Fatherhood draws Victoria man to publish Tsimshian colouring book for children

Leon McFadden is working on 11 more books to finish the horoscope series

Victoria shoppers fund Jubilee hospital cardiac monitoring

More than $40k raised over the holidays at Canadian Tire locations

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read