Another Sewage Spill Reported

SELKIRK, MB | Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The community of Selkirk, north of Winnipeg, has become the fourth Manitoba community to report a breach of its sewage facility during heavy rain last week.

More than 1.8-million litres of sewage was dumped in the Red River from Selkirk's plant over 11 hours on Thursday. Dale Scott, manager of Selkirk's water and waste department, said the facility simply fell behind when 40-million litres of sewage and water rushed into a plant that can handle 4-million litres a day.

Scott said it was pointless to continue operations.

"At the time we had the choice of opening the system and letting it flow through, and that's what we had to do," he said.

"The whole system is washed out into the river. Everything goes. It's not really raw sewage anymore because it's been diluted so much, but there's raw sewage in it." Breaches were also reported at Eriksdale, Stony Mountain and Gimli last week. Such breaches must be reported to the provincial government.

FROM JULY 5, 2005: Rain, flooding overwhelms sewage systems Doug Williamson, a spokesperson for the province's Department of Water Stewardship, said the department is concerned about the four breaches, but he doesn't believe they've caused the high levels of E. coli reported on Lake Winnipeg beaches.

FROM JUNE 30, 2005: E. coli warnings issued for 8 beaches E. coli levels 16 times the acceptable amounts were reported at Gimli last week, at the same time sewage treated with chlorine leaked from the local treatment plant. The levels at Gimli beach have now returned to safe levels. However, Williamson said the two events might not be related. "There have been issues with at least the Gimli sewage-treatment facility, and we have never been able to link that issue with what we were finding on the Gimli beach," he said.

Williamson hopes DNA tests will prove how much contamination at the beaches was caused by the Selkirk and Gimli breaches. He said the province regularly tests beaches and rivers for bacteria and other nutrient growth.

Each of the beaches the province tests for E. coli contamination showed results within guidelines during the last round of testing.

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