As the regional district faces charges of alleged raw sewage dumping from a combine pipe overflow, Burnaby, New West and Vancouver are decades away from separating their storm and sewage lines.
Although Environment Canada would not comment on the details, it did confirm that it filed charges against Metro Vancouver on July 12 for allegedly discharging untreated sewage from a combined overflow pipe into the Burrard Inlet two years ago.
Newer sewage systems have separated pipes for storm and sewage water, but Burnaby, along with New Westminster and Vancouver are the last in the region to still have combined pipes.
While New West intends to finish the separation process by 2075, Burnaby expects to finish by 2050, according to Barry Davis, the city's assistant director of engineering.
"We're ahead of the game," Davis noted. "There aren't any real issues hindering the program's progress right now. We're moving steadily along the track."
The only real issue for Burnaby is keeping the cost sustainable.
"My sense is that again, we've seen this as a priority for 15 to 20 years now, when any federal grant comes about we apply for it," said Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston. "We recognize that it's urgent, and that's why we've expedited the process to get them separated."
Burnaby is about 15 years into the separation process, and newer areas of the city already have separated pipes.
"We recognize the old technology was deficient, and we've been trying to eliminate it, but it costs money," he said. "It impacts people's tax dollars."
Johnston said the city is aggressive in separating the lines at a sustainable rate for the taxpayer.
In New Westminster, the city spends about $1.3 million a year on sewer separation and, under the latest liquid waste management plan, the pipes will all be separated by 2075, according to Catalin Dobrescu, utilities and special projects engineer.
"The issue other than money, is ... (in) the New Westminster municipality we have one of the oldest sewer systems around," Dobrescu said. "Back in the day, when they first sewered New West, it was with vitrified clay pipes, and I'd say ... probably 60 to 70 per cent of our sewers are still vitrified clay pipe. We have lots of joints every two feet, and they infiltrate water from the outside like nobody's business."
He added the city is 15 years into the process and is increasing its separation budget annually.
"We're chipping away at it. 2075 is not an unrealistic timeline," he added. Between 2010 and 2012, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver spent a combined $107 million in sewer separation, according to The Vancouver Sun. The regional district and Environment Canada are set to reappear in court in October, the Sun reported.
© Copyright 2013