City estimates Rutherford Avenue sewage spill to be approximately 59 million litres over 26 years
HAMILTON, ON –The City of Hamilton estimates that approximately 59 million litres of sanitary sewage discharged into the Hamilton Harbour over a duration of 26 years from a spill being contributed to by 11 properties on Rutherford Avenue. The spill was confirmed on Monday January 9, 2023 at 1:45 p.m. with repairs being completed on Wednesday January 11, 2023 at 3:40 p.m. The spill was identified as part of a proactive risk-based inspection pilot program initiated by the City as a key outcome from the Burlington Street spill in November 2022. This pilot program is still underway.
City staff developed this estimate based on the water meter usage data from the 11 properties connected to the combined sewer pipe. Similar to the calculation for the spill that occurred on Burlington Street, there were several ways City staff could calculate the overall estimated volume of wastewater discharged into the Hamilton Harbour, but this methodology was identified as the most accurate representation of the discharge over the time period.
All sewage is now flowing into the Myrtle Avenue combined sewer and all appropriate blocking of the storm sewer has been completed.
The estimated cost of the repair work (excluding staff time) totals $37,529 which includes:
- Initial CCTV investigation and flushing - $1,512
- Vacuuming Costs - $10,017
- Excavation, parts and sewer realignment cost - $22,000
- Permanent road restoration - $4,000
City staff remain in close communication with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Spills Actions Centre and shared the estimated volume of discharge with them this morning.
There has been some discussion publicly about the possibility of the City receiving an Order from the MECP related to this spill. Hamilton Water staff have been meeting with staff from the MECP regarding a possible Order related to the November 22, 2022 Burlington Street Spill. Conversations have been productive, however, at the time of this news release, an Order has not been issued.
- The City launched a risk-based proactive inspection program on December 3, 2022 as a result of the Burlington Street spill on November 22, 2022, in which City staff uncovered through an investigation of a separate maintenance issue, a hole in a combined sewer pipe, spilling into a large storm sewer that was discharging into Hamilton Harbour.
- The risk-based inspection program is currently being run as a pilot and lessons learned will be used to improve the program in the future, and to make recommendations for resource requirements to City Council.
- The first priority of the pilot is looking at the older areas of the City, specifically the combined sewers in the areas where there are overflows to the Wentworth St, Birch/Sherman, Ottawa and Kenilworth combined sewer overflow outfalls.
- This includes 292 maintenance hole inspections as part of the initial pilot, of which 151 inspections have been completed to date.
- Staff are visually inspecting each maintenance hole and also using a pole mounted camera. They are specifically looking for connections in each chamber that are undocumented. These connections are then further inspected using a camera that runs through the pipe and other means (dye tests).
- To date, The City has discovered six undocumented sewer regulators (locations where combined sewage may discharge to the storm sewer during wet weather), and one cross connected sewer (the one identified at Rutherford/Myrtle).
- After preliminary investigation and consultation of City records, City staff believe that the incorrect connection was made in 1996, when a new storm sewer was installed on Myrtle Avenue.
As Mayor, I am deeply concerned anytime we find a sewer leak going into Hamilton Harbour. Learning from the discovery of November's leak, we are proactively looking for these misconnections in our aging sewer system, and we will continue this work going forward.Mayor Andrea Horwath