Pipe leaking sewage into Red River not fixed yet, Winnipeg Councillor says

The City of Winnipeg is scrambling to fix a pipe dumping millions of litres of raw sewage into the Red River, after a temporary fix didn’t last as long as initially hoped.

The pipe, which was installed in 1970, has leaked the equivalent of 76 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sewage into the Red since the leak began last week, and while the city suggested Wednesday night that the problem was resolved, Winnipeg’s public works chair says that’s not quite the case.

Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) told 680 CJOB’s The Jim Toth Show that work is currently underway to bypass the pipe in question, which transports all of the sewage from neighbourhoods like Fort Richmond, Richmond West, and Waverley West to the South End treatment plant.

A frustrating aspect of the situation, Lukes said, is that the pipe was slated for an overhaul, but gave out before that could happen.

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“We thought we had it fixed yesterday, but …not yet. Our city, like many cities in Canada, has old, aging infrastructure. We have to repair it and we have to fix it,” she said.

“We have maintenance schedules, we’re constantly checking and then we build it into the budget when to repair it. But we’re not a city flush with money — that’s not meant to be a pun here.

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“Like our transit system, we run those buses right to the end. We run the pipes and use them as long as we can — and often there are patch jobs and then eventually a complete replacement.”

Click to play video: 'Sewage repair causing delays'

Sewage repair causing delays

Lukes said the current bypass operation is expected to be completed within the next day or so, but it’s not an ideal situation.

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“It’s not good… it’s raw sewage going into the river,” she said. “It’s going into the river and then obviously it gets diluted and it continues on and it goes into Lake Winnipeg.”

Despite the dilution, the presence of so much sewage in the river will increase levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in the river, leading to more green algae in Lake Winnipeg.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Chiefs of Treaty One Nations expressed alarm at the environmental impact of the leak, and called for a proactive response from the city, rather than its current reactive course of bypassing the pipe.

“Our First Nations rely on our waters for sustenance, yet our lands and waters are increasingly encroached upon, hindering our ability to practice traditional livelihoods,” Chief Gordon BlueSky of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation — the Treaty One Nations chair —  said. “We face ongoing harassment within our territories as we harvest for sustenance—despite claims of environmental and conservation efforts, this unchecked activity continues with little regulation, enforcement, or consultation with surrounding First Nations.”

Click to play video: 'Sewage spill into Winnipeg’s Red River caused by significant pipe leak, city email reads'

Sewage spill into Winnipeg’s Red River caused by significant pipe leak, city email reads

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