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$8.8M Uplands pipe upgrade to prevent sewage flowing into ocean

Funding from the federal and provincial governments will allow Oak Bay to replace the single-pipe system that was built nearly a century ago
A sign at Cattle Point warns the public of the potential for wastewater flowing into the ocean after a rainfall. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Oak Bay says it now has the funding to finally address outdated underground infrastructure in the Uplands neighbourhood, where sewage from homes and stormwater from street drains mix and can spill into the ocean during periods of heavy rainfall.

The district said Thursday that funding from the federal and provincial governments will allow it to replace the single-pipe system that was built nearly a century ago.

Just over $8.8 million will go into the sewer separation project, with the federal government ­providing $3.54 million, the ­province $2.94 million and Oak Bay $2.36 million.

The Uplands sewer system was built in the 1930s using a single pipe to collect sewage from toilets, grey water from showers and sinks, and storm water from foundation drains and catch basins in the roads, discharging into the ocean at the ends of Humber and Rutland roads.

In the early 1990s, the combined systems were redirected into new Capital Regional District pump stations at Humber and Rutland roads and pumped into a trunk sewer main on Beach Drive.

However, during large storms, the flow into the pump stations could at times exceed the capacity of the pumps and the excess effluent discharges through the old outfalls into the ocean.

“During heavy rainfall, combined systems are susceptible to overflow, causing effluent to be discharged into local bodies of water,” the district said in a statement.

“While most contaminants are filtered out before the untreated water is reintroduced into the environment, overflows can still have a negative impact.”

The district said constructing new storm sewers and outfalls will allow the current system to be used exclusively as a wastewater sewer, helping to safeguard from flooding and possible adverse environmental effects.

The project, expected to start this year, brings the municipality into compliance with provincial and federal wastewater and environmental protection legislation. The province directed that construction must be complete by 2025.

Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said in a statement that infrastructure is the backbone of a community, and while not always seen, it plays a vital role in livability.

“This investment from all three levels of government helps ensure that residents of Oak Bay and the wider region are better prepared for the impacts of climate changes and that our natural waterways and environment are protected.”

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