City of Hamilton officials say it could take nearly a year beyond Ontario’s fall deadline before it’s able to complete the dredging of a creek where 24 billion litres of sewage and stormwater entered over four years.
Provincial charges against Hamilton were announced in December for the long-term discharge into Chedoke Creek, which occurred due to the incorrect operation of a combined sewage overflow (CSO) tank valve and the malfunction of a second gate valve without detection. The two charges for the contamination come under the authority of the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Ontario ordered a remediation strategy due by February 22, and that the dredging work be completed by October 31.
But, Andrew Grice, director of Hamilton Water, has concerns about the province’s deadline. In a new report to the city’s General Issues Committee last week, he said that the primary timeline challenge will be the permit and approvals process that is necessary for conducting dredging works in a natural regulated waterway, which includes a list of nine agencies that have involvement in the project, such as the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Ministry of Transportation.
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“There are several agencies at the provincial and federal level that must provide their approval prior to the work commencing,” the report states.
Grice noted that the province sees the remediation deadline as “challenging,” but refuses to preemptively extend it.
“However, the [Ministry] has agreed to review the timeline that is outlined in the workplan and will consider deadline extensions during their review, which is at the discretion of the Director per the provisions in the Order,” the report states.
Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions has been preparing the targeted dredging remediation workplan. Currently, it is recommending a hydraulic dredging process.
“[…] The dredge slurry from a hydraulic dredge can be easily routed to the wastewater system for dewatering and ultimate treatment and disposal, thus avoiding potential issues related to dredged material storage, dewatering, and handling operations, which are generally space intensive and costly,” states Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions in its plan.
Once it starts, the remediation project is expected to take four to six months to complete.
The Chedoke Creek discharge saga reached greater levels of controversy after a previous report by SLR Consulting Ltd. advised City of Hamilton officials not to remediate the areas in question.