UNREPORTED SEWAGE DISCHARGE RESULTS IN ENVIRONMENT ACT CHARGES
– – – Independent Review Provides Recommendations for Safer Operations
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship advises chargeshave been laid against the City of Winnipeg under the Environment Act as a result of the city’s South End Water Pollution Control Centre releasing a large amount of partially treated sewage into the Red River over a prolonged period of time. An independent review has also been completed and includes recommendations to ensure this type of incident is not repeated.
The operation of South End Water Pollution Control Centre is regulated through a licence issued by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship under the Environment Act. The plant released partially treated sewage into the Red River over a seven-week period beginning Oct. 7, 2011. Its licence required the malfunction be immediately reported to Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. The malfunction was officially reported Nov. 1, 2011.
The charges filed today include:
releasing or allowing a pollutant to be released;
releasing or allowing a pollutant to be released in an amount, at a level or at rate of release that exceeds limits provided under the licence; and
failing to report the release of a pollutant that may cause an adverse effect on the environment.
The independent review released today determined the cause of incident began as a failure in the biological sewage treatment process. The effectiveness of the bacteria required to treat the sewage was reduced, likely due to low oxygen levels and increased sludge volumes. This resulted in partially untreated sewage being discharged to the Red River.
The review provides a number of operational recommendations for the City of Winnipeg to ensure a similar situation does not happen in the future including:
preparing technical procedures for identifying and for responding to an upset in the biological treatment process and developing communications protocols to guide staff actions and
providing appropriate chlorination and polymer dosing infrastructure to allow staff to respond quickly and efficiently in case of similar events in the future.