The condition of sanitary sewer pipes running beneath the homes of Esquimalt residents isn’t something that’s typically on a homeowner’s mind.
But the township will soon be examining the condition of those pipes on private property toww gain a better understanding of how to manage the inflow and infiltration of water so less money is flushed down the toilet in the future.
According to Jeff Miller, director of engineer and public works for Esquimalt, the township’s sanitary sewer collection system is composed of three main parts that are owned and maintained by the municipality, the CRD and homeowners (which own the portion from the property line to their home).
Approximately 45 per cent of the sewers in the town are publicly owned and 55 per cent are private.
Since 2005, Miller said there’s been a big push to maintain the township’s sewer systems since the water that enters sewers will go to a waste water treatment plant in the future. The problem, he said, is that a lot of the water from inflow and infiltration (rainwater and water that enters the sewer through cracks) doesn’t need to be treated, but the township will still have to pay for it anyway.
“When we get a wastewater treatment plant, municipalities pay for the flows that they send to the plant, so if we can lower that, our cost that will be charged back to the residents for wastewater treatment will be reduced,” said Miller.
A report put forward to Esquimalt council Monday night states the township has been very active in the management of inflow and infiltration since 2005, and has decreased the sanitary flow by 15 per cent. But the township’s efforts during the past 10 years have been focused on the public-owned portion of the sanitary collection system. Now the focus will have to shift to the pipes that are privately owned.
Miller proposed an eight to 10-year program, noting the township will embark on an adventure of trying to eliminate cross connections and rehabilitate pipes on the private side. How those pipes should be rehabilitated and who pays for them is the question council will have to determine.
“I can see the worry coming forward from residents because it is concerning,” said Coun. Meagen Brame, adding she can’t see the bill for repairs being a small chunk of change.
Mayor Barb Desjardins agreed.
“I think it’s really important for us to not only know what the cost is, but what the benefit is,” she said. “The dollars would be very helpful.”
— Pamela Roth