Despite more than 60 millimetres of rainfall reported by the Charlottetown Airport observing site on Thanksgiving Day, the new system separating the city’s storm water and sanitary sewer system lines worked as it was intended. There was no overflow event of untreated sewer discharged into the harbour.
“It was our hope that the Spring Park project would resolve many of the environmental issues associated with combined sewer overflows, but this is the first time the system was really put to the test,” said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “It’s a testament to the research and the work of our utility department that the system functioned just as it was meant to.”
The Spring Park Combined Sewer Separation Project began in 2012 and wrapped up earlier this year. It was the final piece to separating the city’s storm water and sanitary sewer system lines. The multi-year project was funded by all three levels of government for a total cost of approximately $18 million.
Prior to the separation project, the combined sewers in Charlottetown would collect sewage from residential, commercial and industrial properties as well as storm water and direct the flow to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. When it rained heavily or there was a lot of snowmelt, the precipitation would mix with untreated effluent, exceeding the capacity of the treatment plant and excess water that contained untreated sewage would flow into the Hillsborough Harbour.
“This was a significant storm with more than 74 millimetres of rain on Sunday and Monday (Thanksgiving weekend) so it’s big news that we have had no overflow event,” said Coun. Eddie Rice, chairman of the city’s Water and Sewer Utility Committee. “The plant was operating at peak capacity because there is still work to do to improve the collection system and keep storm water out of the sanitary system, but the efforts to date have paid off so far.”
Charlottetown no longer has any combined sewer systems, which greatly reduces the chance of bypass events in the city into the future. However, there remains work for both the city and residents to further reduce the amount of storm water that finds its way into the sanitary sewer system.
The city’s efforts continue with upgrades to the sewer system in the Colonel Gray area.
“Residents are reminded that they are not allowed to send storm water into the sanitary system though sump pumps or rain gutters,” Rice said.