The Clean Harbour Program
The Clean Harbour program is a series of projects designed to have a direct impact on the health of our local environment, specifically the water quality of Hamilton Harbour. When the International Joint Commission delists the harbour as an area of concern (AOC), these projects will have played a significant role in achieving that community milestone.
The largest investment of the Clean Harbour program is a multi-phase plan to upgrade the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant. Because the plant is the largest single source of water flowing into Hamilton Harbour, the quality of that effluent has a direct and powerful impact on the harbour’s water quality and environmental health. The total budget for the upgrades is $340 million, $200 million of which comes from the provincial and federal governments through the Green Infrastructure Fund.
The planned upgrades include elevating the plant’s final treatment process from the secondary level to the tertiary (third) level. This will allow the plant to reach strict discharge limits described by the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan for phosphorus, ammonia and suspended solids.
Sub-projects at the Woodward plant include electrical system upgrades, a new chlorine tank and a new raw sewage pumping station and collection system control to support wet weather and flooding control initiatives. Learn more about the Woodward Upgrades Sub-Projects or the Woodward WWTP Upgrade and Expansion Project Community Liaison Committee.
The Randle Reef Sediment Remediation project will address the largest toxic sediment site in Canada by building an engineered containment facility (ECF) that will isolate the contaminated material from the harbour ecosystem. A long preparation and planning period has now given way to a full-speed-ahead construction phase that is expected to continue until 2023. The City of Hamilton is one of seven funding partners participating in the project under the leadership of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The City of Hamilton has committed $14 million of the $138.9 million project budget. With funding from four levels of government as well as institutional and corporate partners, the Randle Reef ECF will be an outstanding example of the stakeholder approach that is so much a part of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan.
Once completed, stewardship of the ECF will transfer to the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority which will use the facility as a new port space to support the shipping industry in Hamilton Harbour.
Real-time control systems are interconnected gates, pumps and controls that can react immediately to changes in water flow and water levels in the wastewater system. These controls can reduce sewer overflows and protect treatment plants during storms. As a result, the City of Hamilton is upgrading and establishing new real-time controls in its wastewater systems to allow the City to meet HHRAP targets and Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change standards for measures such as pollutant loading and overflow reduction. The City of Hamilton began its Real-Time Control program in 2008 by identifying approximately $35 million of infrastructure investments required to maximize the wastewater system’s capacity and better position it to meet its goals for everything from localized flood protection to water quality.
In 2022 and into 2023, the program is expanding to include weir heights adjustments and programming changes to retain more wet weather flow within the system. Real-time controls are particularly valuable to the City’s wastewater strategy because these controls are typically inexpensive compared to other infrastructure investments and take up comparatively little space. They also ensure that other elements of the infrastructure system can work optimally while being protected from unusual stress during storm events.
The Cross-Connection Control project involves a series of initiatives designed to locate and eliminate crossed sewer pipes that are discharging sewage into the City of Hamilton’s storm sewer system, thus allowing that sewage to enter the harbour untreated.
A pilot project that involved sampling sewer outfalls, inspecting storm sewers, homeowner engagement, dye tests, engineering investigations, inspecting sewer laterals (the pipe connecting the sewer main to an individual home) and the uncrossing of a number of pipes, helped define the kind of process required to expand the program across the City. As the City of Hamilton works with homeowners and business owners to correct a growing number of cross connections, it will reduce the amount of untreated sewage being discharged into the harbour and thus help meet HHRAP water quality targets.
The next phase of the Cross-Connection Control project is expanding its capacity so that the City can find and correct even more crossed pipes.
Projects in the Pipeline
As Hamilton’s Clean Harbour program progresses on its current projects, it continues to evaluate and plan for the future. This includes initiating new projects and connecting with related undertakings throughout the Hamilton Harbour watershed. Anticipating work includes:
Hamilton Harbour Watershed Action Plan: The City of Hamilton is taking steps toward developing a comprehensive Watershed Action Plan and reiterating its commitment to the water quality objectives outlined in the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan. The new Watershed Action Plan will help to identify and guide the work to address non-point-source contamination and will focus on activities that are within the care and control of the City of Hamilton. Actions under the new Watershed Action Plan will benefit recreation and natural habitats in the watershed and continue the process to delist Hamilton Harbour as an identified Area of Concern.
Dundas Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades: The upgrades to the treatment plant includes major infrastructure enhancement and potentially a renewal of the tertiary filtration system. In total, the Dundas Wastewater Treatment Plant project will require a $20 million investment from the City of Hamilton’s water and wastewater budget.
 The Desjardins Canal, which opened in 1837 and was effectively out of use three decades later, allowed ships to pass through Burlington Heights ay the west end of Hamilton Harbour and go through Cootes Paradise (which was a marsh at the time) to reach the town of Dundas
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