Wolseley resident records smelly mess flowing from pipe onto Assiniboine River walkways

A Wolseley winter wonderland on the Assiniboine River has been ruined by sewage water, a neighbourhood resident says.

Ross Brownlee shot video and took photos of dark, smelly water coming out of a culvert Monday afternoon, he said.

He first noticed dirty water while walking along the Assiniboine toward Omand’s Creek with his wife. 

“It was really black coloured, like not the river colour,” he said. 

Brownlee says it was heartbreaking to see the water damage the trails residents have worked so hard to create. (Walther Bernal/CBC )

“And then we got down there and it just smelled like a bad toilet and it was flowing so fast.”

They kept walking to try to figure out where it was coming from and noticed a city pumping station nearby.

“It was absolutely disgusting. And what was amazing is watching all the other community people just sort of walking up and looking and no one could really talk. It was just, is this really happening?” 

Brownlee said he believes it was raw sewage, because there were items you would sometimes discard in a toilet floating down the river trail. 

The once white trails have been turned black by the dirty water, Brownlee says. (Submitted by Ross Brownlee )

CBC News has asked the City of Winnipeg about what Brownlee saw. 

The City of Winnipeg does report incidents of untreated sewage being released into the environment on its website. 

“These events are usually the result of something unanticipated like a water main break or a power outage,” the website says.

“When sewer operations are disrupted, the sewage can be released into the environment, which helps protect public health and prevent property damage like basement flooding.”

The website doesn’t include any incidents for 2021. The last reported release of untreated sewage was on Dec. 31 at 80 Churchill Dr., which resulted in 0.005 millilitres of untreated sewage ending up in the environment, the site says.

There are 27 reports of untreated sewage being released into the environment in 2020 on the city website.

Brownlee is part of a committee of Wolseley residents who have worked together to maintain skating, walking and skiing trails along the river in the neighbourhood.

The outflow of water has turned them black, which is heartbreaking, he said. 

Bits of garbage can be seen in the water coming out of the culvert. (Walther Bernal/CBC )

The damage to the winter trails is one thing, but the environmental impact and lack of care for Winnipeg’s rivers is even more disturbing, he said. 

“My wife and I were out canoeing on the river last summer and we were surrounded by toilet paper,” he said. 

“I think the river should be a highlight for Winnipeg and we should be really caring for these beautiful resources.”