The City of Hamilton said it discovered sewage had leaked into the Port of Hamilton over the past 26 years due to a hole in a common sewer line in the industrial area.
It is not clear how much sewage has entered the harbor.
But Nick Winters, director of Hamilton Water, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that “it’s going to be a big number,” adding that the city will make the number public as soon as they have it.
Carlyle Khan, superintendent of public works, said Hamilton Water employees noticed something odd on the security camera footage. Winters said that led to the discovery of the hole late Tuesday morning on the northeast corner of Wentworth Street North and Burlington Street East..
A preliminary investigation from employees noted that they believed a consultant had placed a hole in a common sewer line in 1996, he said.
“It appears that the consultant involved in that work was under the impression that all the sewers in that area were storm drains and that they designed a direct connection to a box culvert leading out,” says Winters. Port Hamilton.
“The situation we’re describing to you today is something that shouldn’t have happened.”
What is affected by sewage spills?
City officials said Hamilton residents’ drinking water was not affected by the newly discovered leak, but that the spill would affect the harbor’s environment.
Winters said the outflow ends at the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority Pier.
About 50 houses were tied to the pipe, but he said the water those houses used had already flowed into the lake.
Winters said staff are looking at how much water each household uses to find out how much wastewater has ended up in the harbor.
He also said the leak must have been sewage “significantly less” than the 24 billion liters of sewage that leaked into Chedoke Creek over four years (which the city is still cleaning up).
How did the leak go unnoticed for 26 years?
The storm drain is always under water, so it won’t be easy to detect and sample the overflow, Winters said.
It’s also not uncommon to take samples from inside the sewers, he said, but the city came up with it surface water quality program last year.
What is the city doing about it?
He said staff contacted the Department of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Spill Action Center at 12:20 p.m. ET Tuesday and reported it to his spill-reporting line. city.
CBC Hamilton has reached out to the Department for comment and is awaiting a response.
According to Winters, there is also a vacuum truck on site as a short-term way to stop the flow of wastewater into the environment.
The city said residents in the area could see many trucks and other vehicles nearby as staff worked to fix the problem.
Khan also said the city’s audit office has been notified.