Hamilton

Here's what the massive Chedoke Creek leak has cost Hamilton so far

Hamilton has either spent or earmarked about $1 million for legal advice, consultant reports and cleanup efforts following the Chedoke Creek leak.

 Approximately $380K — and counting — has been spent to hire consultants

An estimated 24 billion litres of untreated sewage and stormwater leaked into Chedoke Creek over more than four years, according to the city. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Hamilton has so far either spent or earmarked about $1 million for legal advice, consultant reports and cleanup efforts following the Chedoke Creek leak.

The spill, which released an estimated 24 billion litres of untreated sewage and storm runoff leaked into the creek for more than four years was met with outrage by the public, but the real cost for taxpayers is just beginning.

In the fallout after the details of the spill were made public the city has formally apologized and released some of the formerly confidential studies about the spill. Council also voted in favour of a motion from Councillor Tom Jackson calling for the city to hire five people to physically monitor the city's wastewater system.

The new roles include four full-time staff to carry out "enhanced inspections" and one person who would sample water quality at a cost of just under $500,000.

That's on top of an initial $56,000 spent on a vacuum truck that sucked up material covering the creek back in July 2018 when the leak was first discovered and stopped, as well as $67,393.44 spent on external legal advice as of the end of October.

That advice is presumably the same legal opinion council relied on when deciding not to publicly release details of the volume and duration of the leak when they first became aware of them.

 Approximately $380,000 — and counting — has also been spent to hire consultants.

Those costs be broken down as follows:

  • About $40,000 to Calder Engineering.
  • About $180,000 to Wood Group.
  • About $50,000 to SLR.
  • About $110,000 to Hatch.

The total so far comes to about $1 million, half the amount mentioned in a consultant report from January that outlined an ambitious plan to dredge the sediments from the creek with a very general $2 million cost estimate.

Two consultant assignments are still outstanding, but the city hasn't said what they entail or what they're expected to cost.

Orders from the province's Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, which is investigating the spill, may offer some clues though.

They explain that the government is still waiting for the results of an ecological risk assessment which must be supplied by Feb. 14. The ministry is also asking for a written surface water monitoring program for the affected areas of the creek and Cootes Paradies by May 1, 2020.

The potential costs also include fines from the ministry following its investigation.

Dianne Saxe, an environmental lawyer and former provincial environmental commissioner, said if the province decided to fine the city she expects it would be "in the many millions."

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