© Guardian photo
Construction is now underway on a major upgrade to Charlottetown's sewer system.
The percentage of sewage seeping into the Hillsborough River is decreasing, says the chairman of Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility.
Coun. Eddie Rice says sewage is still flowing into the harbour but the city is making progress.
Sewage flows into the harbour when water from the combined water and sewer pipes under the capital city overwhelm the lift station, located near the Queen Charlotte Armouries. It usually occurs during weather events such as heavy rainfalls.
There were seven cases where the system overflowed into the river since November 2013, and that matches the number of overflows that occurred during the winter of 2012-13.
“You have to understand, too, the number of overflows were no different in the two years but since progress has been made in the separation (project) less sanitary waste water has gone into the harbour so, to a degree, the percentage is lower but there’s still seven times a year,’’ Rice said Tuesday.
The project he refers to is the multimillon-dollar Spring Park sanitary storm water separation project. The second phase was completed last year at a cost of $4.1 million, which includes $2.4 million from the provincial and federal governments.
Tenders will be closing on the third phase with construction expected to begin in May.
“We’ve made fantastic progress as far as I’m concerned. This is done by council. It isn’t done by Eddie Rice and it’s done by (the water and sewer) department which has come by leaps and bounds. I’m really happy with it.’’
Mayor Clifford Lee said the project really didn’t get rolling until he appointed Rice as chairman of the department four years ago.
“I give Coun. Rice full credit for his leadership and commitment in what he’s been able to do with it,’’ Lee said.
Once the project wraps up, all of the city’s underground piping will be separated — one set of pipes for sanitary water and a completely different set for storm water. That will eliminate overflows into the river.
Rice said the project could wrap up this year but activities around the 2014 celebrations might delay the end date. That’s because crews will need to tear up University Avenue in Charlottetown. The city has been asked to hold off on that part of the project until after the summer is over.
“We could be done in 2014 to early 2015. We’ve been asked to stay off University Avenue and some (other) streets for the 2014 celebrations so that can’t be between June and September.’’
Rice said not only is the city in the process of cleaning up the environment but this multi-year project has created jobs.
“It’s creating employment over a period of time, we’re hurting less and less people in the fishing industry and our impacts (on the environment) is less and less.’’