District of Squamish says roughly 1,587 cubic metres of wastewater was discharged into the Squamish Estuary on January 14 due to the failure of Queens Way lift station.
Rachel Boguski, media relations for District, said this would be equal to 11% of the total volume of wastewater generated by the community that day. “District crews worked to limit the amount of discharge to the absolute minimum amount required to minimize damage to homes and businesses downtown,” Boguski said.
The District is currently working within the protocols of regulatory partners, including Ministry of Environment and Vancouver Coastal Health. The agencies will be monitoring and sampling over the next week to determine any follow-up work needed, based on the results. In coordination with the agencies, District crews are placing signage around the Squamish Estuary near water entry points to advise the public to refrain from water activities at this time. Notices will remain posted until the contamination has had adequate dilution and removal via the tidal current, which is expected to take about seven days.
In a statement, the District said staff were aware of issues with the Queens Way manhole due to its age (approximately 25 years), and had a project planned and out for bids to replace the manhole this spring. Very recently, staff had also observed an increased deterioration at the site, and so emergency work to build a bypass had been scheduled for Saturday night. This would have enabled the bypass work to take place overnight while wastewater flows were at their lowest, allowing the trucking of the waste to keep up with the volumes.
However, the failure occurred Saturday morning, prompting the unplanned emergency response while wastewater flows were at their highest during the day.