Edmonton

Ma-Me-O Beach sewage system to be shut off until spring

After being plagued by problems, the new $3-million wastewater system in the Summer Village of Ma-Me-O Beach is expected to be shut off until April. The village council announced the update to residents in an online notification dated Dec. 23. 

Decision follows last winter's frozen lines, leading to springtime leaks

Last winter the lines in the wastewater system in the Summer Village of Ma-Me-O Beach froze, leading to leaks the following spring. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

After being plagued by problems, the new $3-million wastewater system in the Summer Village of Ma-Me-O Beach is expected to be shut off until April. 

The village council announced the update to residents in an online post dated Dec. 23. 

"Council has decided that rather than wait and risk the system freezing, they will have the entire system shut down and winterized the week of Jan. 6," says the post.

The decision was made after council reviewed information from MPE Engineering on Dec. 12 about heat tracing repairs, in which they advised the necessary fixes could not be completed this year. 

The system was installed in the small village one hour southwest of Edmonton in 2018, after a nearly 30-year debate. At the time, some residents expressed concern the lines couldn't handle the cold despite insulated heat tracing running along the main line.

Last winter the lines froze, leading to leaks the following spring.

"It's just been a mess from the get-go," said Scott Zenew, a year-long resident who hasn't hooked up to the new system yet. 

Zenew said the system isn't suited to the village's climate, leaving it in its current predicament.

Resident Scott Zenew says the system has been "a mess from the get-go." (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The shutdown is planned for Jan. 6 until April 15, during which time residents will be required to have their holding tanks pumped out. Council noted that invoices for that cost may be submitted for reimbursement. 

"It's going to cause people a bit of a headache for having to get pumped out, and also money that they didn't think they had to spend — they'll have to go through the hassle of getting reimbursed," Zenew said.

Dr. Tim Mahoney is part of a group of locals who are concerned there may be more leaks seeping sewage into the groundwater.

"I want a system that's going to work and I don't want to be polluting the environment with a sewer that doesn't work and that's what we've got," he said.

But deputy mayor John Slater claims the system has been tested and that any remaining technical issues will be fixed in short order.

"I would ask for patience, help us get through this thing. It will be operating next year," Slater said.

With files from Stephen Cook

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