Steve Brown

30,000 litres of sewage contaminates Cordova Bay beach after pipe bursts

The underground PVC pipe, roughly 4.5 metres underground, broke around 9:30 a.m., March 21.

The pungent odour of sewage that wafted through Cordova Bay Wednesday morning was the only notification residents had that a large underground pipe had burst nearby leaking an estimated 30,000 litres of sewage into their neighbourhood.

The PVC pipe, roughly 4.5 metres underground, was found broken around 9:30 a.m., March 21 – much to the surprise of Saanich’s engineering department.

“The main was just beyond 30 years old. We would still expect that to have a lot of useful life left in it,” said Colin Doyle, director of engineering.

The break came to Saanich’s attention when an engineering employee arrived on site to do maintenance and saw “the water start to boil out of the ground,” according to manager of public works, Mike Ippen.

Crews worked until 4 a.m. Thursday to repair and replace the ruptured pipe, a few metres west of the Haliburton pump station, on Halburton Road at Lochside Drive.

“Everything is now back in operation and functioning,” Doyle said Thursday morning.

An investigation into what caused the 16-inch-diameter pipe to break will be held.

No homeowners lost service, and trucks were brought in to collect the flowing effluent, and shuttle it to a functioning pump station elsewhere.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said Thursday that she was upset Saanich didn’t notify neighbours about the spill, or the fact that the effluent leaked down to the beach.

“They forgot about us. … We are important. We are your taxpayers here,” she said. “Why didn’t they send a volunteer to knock on doors, or put things on doors. There’s ways of communicating.”

Doyle says there is no formal notification process when engineering is out making emergency repairs.

“We usually don’t go out and do a notice when we’re trying to repair something urgently,” he said.

Ippen says most of the sewage that leaked ended up in nearby storm drains, and flowed out into Cordova Bay. Very little sewage, he said, leaked onto the land near the beach. Signs were posted warning beach-users about the spill.

Vancouver Island Health Authority spokesperson Shannon Marshall says environmental health officers continue to monitor the situation, and the beach will remain closed until water samples come back clean.

“The beach area affected is not a public beach. … Our EHO assessment indicates that the contaminated beach area is well marked with yellow tape and advisory signs,” Marshall wrote in an email.

A spokesperson with the provincial Ministry of Environment’s environmental emergency program says they are monitoring Saanich’s cleanup and mitigation efforts. Saanich’s manager of environmental services could not be reached for comment.

“We don’t know whether we can use this beach for the summer. Will we have to wait a week? A month? What has happened to the little otters? What has happened to the seals? What’s happened to the birds?” the Cordova Bay resident said.

“There’s all sorts of different ways to give information (to residents), none of which were done. If there isn’t a procedure’s manual, there should be one written pretty soon,” she added.

By Thursday morning, the replacement pipe had been installed and buried. Saanich crews remained on scene to conduct clean-up.

The cost of the incident is still unknown.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read