Pollution Control: Progress Report
The quality of water in the Great Cataraqui River and Lake Ontario is impacted by many things including:
- Agricultural operations and industrial discharges,
- Illegal dumping and accidental spills,
- Homeowners practices, and
- City discharges from the Wastewater Treatment Plants, combined sewer overflows and surface runoff.
On behalf of all Kingstonians, the City of Kingston is committed to minimizing its affects on our river and lake. The overall objective of the City's Drainage Services is to provide customers with an acceptable level of service that is cost-effective, timely and environmentally conscious.
Some benefits to improving our lake and river water quality include:
- Enhanced ecosystem health,
- Reduced public health risk,
- Increased support for using the river and lake for recreation, irrigation and drinking water supplies, and
- Enhanced overall public enjoyment of the waterfront.
In 1992, the City developed a long term Pollution Control Plan (PCP) that identified a series of major infrastructure improvements that will substantially reduce or eliminate overflows from combined sewers. Most of these improvements will serve to increase the capacity of the sewer system so that it overflows less often. Many of the recommendations have already been implemented and the plan was recently updated to target further improvements to the system. Since 1992, we have completed the following works:
Until the 1950s Kingston was served with a system of combined sewers that were designed to discharge into the lake and harbour through 24 outlets along the waterfront. In the 1950's a collector sewer, pumping station and Ravensview Sewage Treatment Plant were constructed. These facilities were designed to collect all dry weather sanitary flows as well as, up to three times the dry weather flows during rain events. Between 1992 and 1999, the City constructed seven new storage facilities, which substantially increase the amount of flow that could be managed and reducing the number and volume of overflows. Since 1997, the O'Kill and Portsmouth Pumping Stations have been upgraded to increase the volume of flow that can be pumped to the sewage treatment plant.
Sewer Replacement and Sewer Separation
Sewer infrastructure has a 60-75 year life span and costs millions of dollars to construct. Wherever possible, as we are replacing our aging infrastructure we are installing separate systems so that storm water cannot interfere with the sewage collection and treatment process. This is a longer-term process that is linked to the increased capacity projects, capital reconstruction programs and other urban planning issues.
Sewer Capacity Upgrades
In some areas of the City we cannot separate sewer and stormwater systems because of limited space or because there is no drainage outlet available. In these areas, the only solution is to upgrade the existing system to increase the flow capacity. The pollution control plan identified thirty-one sewer upgrade projects.
Since 1993, twenty-one of these projects have been completed, three are underway and two have been proposed for the 2003 capital reconstruction program. The remaining five are lower priority projects that do not involve separation or are awaiting other planning issues related to new growth and development.
We know that variations in the weather directly affect the flows. The larger or faster the snow melt or the greater the intensity of the rainfall, the more susceptible the system is to overflow events occurring. We have been monitoring our systems and collecting data to identify the amount of precipitation that triggers an overflow at various locations throughout the city. This information will help us prioritize future improvements based on the most vulnerable areas. Monitoring also helps us determine the effectiveness of the improvements we have undertaken.
Are We making any progress?
Our monitoring indicates that the total occurrences of Combined Sewer Overflows are beginning to decrease. In addition, the total volume of each occurrence is leveling off. This positive trend can be attributed to the system upgrades we have completed.
In addition to our system monitoring we also rely on beach closures to determine the effectiveness of our system upgrades. There have been no beach closures along the Kingston Lake or Harbourfront area since 1993.
To help reach our objective of substantially reducing or eliminating CSOs we have proposed a capital program that identifies a number of large, expensive and time consuming projects that will take several years to complete.
The Road Ahead: Ongoing and Upcoming Projects
Cataraqui River Utilities Crossing $16-24 Million Investment
In the central part of the City, flow from the sewer system and combined sewer system is routed to the River Street Pumping Station and then pumped to the Ravensview Treatment Plant. The pipe between the Pumping Station and the Plant runs under the Great Cataraqui River. Built in 1955, the forcemain carries sewage generated by some 60,000 people living and working west of the river to the Ravensview Water Pollution Control Plant located east of the river. Without extra pipes, the River Street Pumping Station is not operating at full capacity for fear of the potential environmental impact of a catastrophic failure of the single pipe. This controlled capacity results in overflows during significant wet weather.
This $16-$24 million dollar project involves installing new pumps at the River Street Pumping Station as well as new pipes crossing the Cataraqui River. This would enable us to increase the capacity and treat more of the wet weather flow.
Harbour Front Trunk Sewer $5-8 Million Investment
The Harbour Front Trunk Sewer is one of the principal collector pipes for sewage in the City of Kingston and represents a significant improvement opportunity. Upgrading the capacity of this pipe will allow us to better manage both sewage and storm water flows. A second part of this project involves the development of a large storage facility located in the area of the River Street Pumping Station. Increased storage will allow us to reduce the amount of untreated flow that is released. This work is estimated at $5-$8 million dollars.
Collinwood Street Combined Sewer Overflow $3.5-4 Million Investment
This project involves the development of a major storage facility in the Collingwood Street area. This investment of $3.5-$4 million dollars will add to our total storage capabilities and enable us to reduce the frequency and volume of overflows.
North End Pumping Station $3-3.5 Million Investment
Equipment and instrumentation at the North End Pumping Station is old and in need of renewal and replacement. Upgrades to the station are planned in order to improve performance and reliability. In addition, the capacity of the station is being reviewed through extensive flow monitoring and service area analysis. The project is ongoing and several options are under consideration, including increased wet well capacity, increased pumping capacity. The cost is estimated at $3 - $3.5 million dollars.
Stormwater Quality Surveillance Program
In 2001, Environment Division initiated a program of routine inspection and sampling of the City's storm sewer outfalls. The principal goal of this program is to identify storm sewer catchments that are contributing presentably large contaminant loadings to our aquatic environments. This program identified three areas of immediate concern. One of these areas was quickly repaired while the remaining two continue to be assessed to determine the source(s) of the problems. This program continues in 2002 with an aim to prioritizing action based upon actual contaminants loadings.
Annual Construction $4-6 Million Investment Annually
Each year Utilities Kingston works with the City of Kingston to replace aging infrastructure at the time of road construction work. The impact of replacing old sewer mains and separating sewers is long term in nature. Our annual investment of $4-$6 million dollars is evidence of commitment to maintain and replace our infrastructure t ensure a safe and reliable system.
Additional information on all projects can be reviewed on our website at www.utilitieskingston.com or by calling our customer service team at 546-0000.