British Columbia

Sewage pipeline in Fraser River could burst, says Mission mayor

The Mayor of Mission is warning that a 36-year-old pressurized pipe that carries all of the district's sewage to a treatment plant on the south side of the Fraser River is at capacity and could cause an environmental disaster.

Report shows 11 million litres of toxic waste a day could wind up in the river

The Mayor of Mission says if the district's major sewer line spanning the Fraser River isn't twinned, it could cause an environmental disaster very soon. (Anita Bathe/CBC News)

The Distict of Mission is lobbying for federal money to fix an aging sewage pipeline the mayor says could cause an environmental disaster if left unchecked.

Mayor Pam Alexis said the 36-year-old pressurized pipe, which runs under the Fraser River bed and carries all of the district's sewage to a treatment plant on the south side of the river in Abbotsford, is at capacity and could burst at any moment.

She said the line needs to be twinned and the municipality is short about $22 million to pay for the project, which Alexis said will cost approximately $32 million.

"We can't do this ourselves, that's the bottom line," said Alexis, who added it is "very difficult" for a community with a population of 40,000 people "to make enough noise from where we are in Ottawa." The municipality has hired a lobbyist to put pressure on the federal government to help foot the bill.

Twin the pipe

Alexis wants to twin the pipe and divert the waste into the new pipe so the old one can be examined. She said there was a breach on the line about five or six years ago and she is worried that the rest of the line is also in disrepair. 

"It's under the river where corrosive material is hitting it … rock and debris coming down the river," said Alexis.

She said action is needed to "protect the health of the Fraser" before a massive breach contaminates the river.

A report presented to district council  Aug. 6 says a pipe failure would result in 11 million litres of untreated raw residential and industrial wastewater discharging into the river daily until contained.

Liberal Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Jati Sidhu said in a statement he agrees a new sewer line is a top priority for the district.

He said he has brought the issue to Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne and reached out to his provincial colleagues for their support and buy in as well.

"We are pushing hard and I am confident we will find a solution," said Sidhu.

With files from The Early Edition

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