COQUITLAM, B.C., March 1, 2022 – Coquitlam is accelerating priority sewer projects in early 2022, including more upgrades to the City’s portion of the sewer system in Burquitlam.
Coquitlam Council recently advanced funding for sewer upgrades on North Road and Como Lake Avenue, and for the Southwest Austin Heights sewer upgrade project to allow work to begin earlier to improve pricing and coordination with road paving and other works.
These sewer upgrade projects in Southwest Austin Heights and on North Road and Como Lake are financed through a reserve account funded by development cost charges (DCCs), with fees paid by developers. The costs for these projects will be repaid through future sewer DCCs and have no long-term financial impact to taxpayers.
Protecting the Sewer System
The sanitary sewer system is designed to move wastewater and sewage from properties to regional treatment plants, and there is a separate drainage system designed to collect and safely disperse rainfall. However, rain water and groundwater can enter the sanitary sewer system through holes or cracks in sewer mains and pipes, leaking joints or maintenance hole covers, or improperly connected roof or foundation drains on private properties, known as inflow and infiltration (I&I).
Coquitlam is ramping up its efforts in 2022 to address I&I as more extreme rainfall and storms in recent years has increased I&I, which can lead to sewer backups, basement flooding, overflows into fish-bearing streams and higher sewer treatment costs.
To protect the system, Coquitlam is expanding its ongoing I&I work to monitor sewer flow levels, conduct pipe video and maintenance hole inspections, replace or rehabilitate aging infrastructure and use non-toxic fog or dye to check for leaks. The City will also focus on incorrect sewer connections on private properties, such as when drainage is attached to the sanitary sewer rather than the storm sewer. These projects will increase system capacity and help prevent overflows.
Property Owner Responsibilities
About half of the City’s sewer system is located on private property. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sewer infrastructure on their land, including fixing or replacing old or damaged pipes and making sure roof and foundation drains are properly connected.
Property owners are encouraged to:
- Have pipes inspected with a camera by a plumber or drainage specialist at least once a decade.
- Ensure roof and foundation drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer line (in areas without modern storm sewer connections, the City provides assistance on a case-by-case basis);
- Avoid planting water-loving trees and shrubs on top of sewer lines or drain pipes, where roots could cause damage; and
- Keeping catch basins near their property free of leaves and debris, or signing up for the City’s Adopt a Catch Basin volunteer program to help ensure that only rain goes down the drain (learn more at www.coquitlam.ca/adoptacatchbasin).
In the coming months, Coquitlam will distribute information to homes in the Stoney Creek and Southwest Austin Heights neighbourhoods educating them about the causes of wet-weather related sanitary sewer overflows and what they can do to help reduce I&I.