Posted on December 22, 2020
The city expects to spend more than $2 million on a provincially ordered cleanup of sewage-soaked Chedoke Creek.
But whether Hamilton can meet the “optimistic” October 2021 dredging deadline remains unclear.
“We’re a little nervous,” said public works head Dan McKinnon in a news conference held to confirm the city will comply with a cleanup order from Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. “But we’re going to go great-gangbusters here to satisfy the order.”
The Spectator revealed in November 2019 that an open sewer gate spilled 24 billion litres of sewage into the west-end creek and Cootes Paradise marsh over four years. The city argued no further cleanup was needed — but Ontario rejected that “do-nothing approach” last month and ordered dredging in the creek.
Hamilton has until Feb. 22 to submit a remediation plan and is supposed to finish dredging by the end of October. The city could have appealed the latest order to the Environment Review Tribunal, but instead vowed Thursday to “do its best” to do the work despite deadline concerns.
In particular, McKinnon said it will be tough to get environmental permits on time from three levels of government. The province previously told The Spectator a full, multi-month environmental assessment is not required.
A past consulting report from Wood Environmental on the spill estimated it would cost $2 million to dredge 530 dump-truck loads of pollutants out of Chedoke.
The city will go back to Wood Environmental for its cleanup plan, but McKinnon said that early cost estimate was likely “on the low end.” He noted the city will also need to pay for water-quality improvements ordered for Cootes paradise marsh.
The city won’t have a cleanup plan ready until February, but McKinnon said the likely solution is hydraulic dredging — basically “a glorified vacuum” that sucks up muck while minimizing recirculation of pollutants in the water.
The city was also recently charged over the Chedoke sewage spill and faces the prospect of hefty fines. The cleanup order is unrelated to the separate legal charges.