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Chedoke Creek spill update: City of Hamilton responds to Director’s Order from Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks

HAMILTON, ON – Today, the City of Hamilton responded to orders from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) as they relate to the spill into Chedoke Creek.

In November 2019, the MECP ordered the City to complete an ecological risk assessment in regard to Chedoke Creek. The assessment was to include an evaluation of the environmental impact to the Creek from the combined sewage discharged into Chedoke Creek between January 28, 2014 and July 18, 2018, The City hired SLR Consulting to complete the ecological risk assessment.

Yesterday, SLR Consulting joined General Manager of Public Works, Dan McKinnon, to provide a summary of their findings to the City of Hamilton’s General Issues Committee.

The presentation started with a video summarizing how combined sewer systems work and how combined sewer overflow tanks work. It also provided an account of the events that led to the spill into Chedoke Creek. Video: Combined Sewer Overflow Tanks & 2018 Chedoke Creek Spill.

Highlights from the presentation include:

  • Chedoke Creek is an urban watercourse and is the receiving body for two combined sewer overflow tanks, several unmonitored stormwater outfalls, and sewer lateral cross connections. As well, it is located right beside Hwy 403 and a closed landfill.
  • Contamination in the creek has been an ongoing issue in Chedoke Creek for many years, both prior to and after the discharge.
  • Sampling results showing contaminants in the Creek are consistent pre and post discharge
  • It is not possible to attribute environmental impacts exclusively to the spill.
  • Ongoing sources of contamination still exist.

Ultimately, SLR Consulting recommended that further remediation of the Creek is unnecessary.

Today, the report from SLR Consulting will be sent to the MECP in order to comply with the November 2019 order.

To date, in response to the discharge, the City has taken a number of actions toward addressing the impacts of the spill. These include:

  • Immediately reporting the spill to the MECP’s Spills Action Centre.
  • Immediately informing the public that it had discovered the spill.
  • Locating the source of the spill and immediately stopping it.
  • Undertaking clean up of the creek including removing 242,000 litres of “floatable material” from the surface and edge of the creek.
  • Initiating regular monitoring of the water quality in impacted areas of Chedoke Creek.
  • Initiating and completing enhanced inspections of wastewater facilities and equipment.
  • Undertaking studies through experts to determine what kind of further remediation is appropriate for Chedoke Creek.
  • As well, in an effort to reduce the risk of an event like this happening again in the future, as part of the 2020 Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Budget, Council approved the addition of four new staff to improve the routine physical inspection and preventative maintenance programs for water infrastructure, including CSO tanks. Council also approved the addition of one new staff member to sample and analyze water and wastewater quality in Hamilton.

Quick Facts about the spill into Chedoke Creek:

  • The City discovered the source of the spill on July 18, 2018. There was no knowledge of the spill at any time prior to July 2018.
  • In November 2019, the City informed the public about additional details of a combined sewage spill into Chedoke Creek.
  • On November 28, 2019 Mayor Eisenberger and members of City Council issued a formal apology to the residents of Hamilton for the failure to publicly disclose the volume and duration of the discharge of storm water runoff and sanitary sewage into Chedoke Creek when it first became known to the Council in 2018 and at subsequent Committee and Council meetings.
  • There is no evidence of any human health effects identified as resulting from this spill.
  • Within only a few weeks, water quality sampling results showed a substantial improvement in water quality conditions associated with a dramatic decrease in E.coli to pre-spill levels.
  • For many years, Public Health Services continues to recommend against using the water courses linked to Chedoke Creek for primary-contact recreational water activities (such as swimming or wading) or secondary-contact recreational water activities (such as canoeing or fishing). As such, signs warning against any contact with those waterways are expected to remain in place indefinitely.
  • The spill had no impact on the drinking water supply in Hamilton as Lake Ontario is the source for our drinking water.
  • The City did not provide additional details to the public because the matter is under an ongoing investigation by the MECP’s Investigations & Enforcement Branch. The City does not comment or provide information when there are ongoing investigations except in circumstances where it is important for the public to know information because there is a risk to public health.

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