The roadwork on lower Argyle Street—which is causing detours around the train station and entrance to Harbour Quay—will eventually result in less sewage ending up in the Alberni Inlet, said city of Port Alberni utilities superintendent Brian Mousley.
“We have an outfall now that goes through the [train station] parking lot and out beside the Canadian Alberni Engineering building,” said Mousley.
The outfall directs storm water out into the Alberni Inlet, rather than towards the sewage lagoon.
“It’s good because it separates our storm water from our waste water,” said Mousley.
That’s important, Mousley said, because much of South Port—what used to be Port Alberni pre-amalgamation—has combined sanitary and storm sewers.
“We’re starting our process of coming up Argyle Street with our storm system to handle the majority of the south side of town,” city engineering technician Boyd Wong said.
Having a separate storm water system is important, Mousley said, because having combined storm and sanitary sewers means that all of it gets sent off to the city’s sewage lagoon.
“Otherwise we’re treating the storm water,” he said.
“The storm water is actually going into our sanitary sewers which goes through pumps and goes to our lagoon and ends up being treated.”
That’s more wear and tear on all of the equipment than needed.
“It’s just rainwater, it doesn’t need to be treated.”
But that’s not the only reason to separate storm water.During heavy rainfall, excess sewage ends up in Alberni Inlet.
This occurs via combined sewer overflows.
While the sanitary sewage is diluted by the storm water, it’s still not an ideal situation.
Twinning the sewer system—separating sanitary and storm sewers—prevents that.
“This is a really neat phase of starting to twin out so storm water will go out to the outfall,” said Mousley.
A few years ago, the city installed a storm system in the train station parking lot—a step towards the process of twinning out South Port that is still ongoing.
“It’s a good stepping stone,” said Mousley.
Only approximately 40 per cent of the city’s south side is currently separated out because of the way it was originally built, said Wong.
While the city of Alberni took the time to twin out the majority of its sewer system, Port Alberni did not.
Only newer areas in South Port, like Cameron Heights above Canal Beach and the newer subdivisions south of Scott Street are separated, Boyd said, as well as the areas the city has done over the past decades.
But the city’s work only has a limited benefit until homeowners have a reason to hook into the new storm systems.
“What we do helps because at least we get the road water off,” said Wong.
Water coming off roofs, however, continues to enter the city’s sanitary system.
Due to the expense of adding a storm water line, Wong said that most homeowners don’t add a storm pipe until doing renovation work.
“Usually it’s perimeter drains when people think about putting in two systems,” said Wong.
If a street is not twinned out, Wong recommends that when homeowners are redoing their sewer connections they should connect their roof drains to their sewer line at the property line.
That way, when the city twins out that street they can hook the home into the separated storm system at no charge.
The work on Argyle Street and Kingsway Avenue should be completed by the beginning of November.
A water main will also be replaced in the area.
“We’re going to replace 120 metres of a cast iron water main,” said Mousley.
The cast iron pipe is being replaced with a blue brute PVC pipe.
“Cast iron is prone to shear breaks and asbestos clay pipe is prone to blowout,” said Mousley.