Manitoba

Assiniboine Park Zoo released sewage into river, city documents say

The Assiniboine Park Zoo released an unknown amount of raw sewage for an unknown period of time into the Assiniboine River, City of Winnipeg records say.

Illegal sanitary connection discovered after city workers noticed strong odour near Assiniboine River

The Assiniboine Park Zoo released an unknown amount of sewage over an unknown period of time into the Assiniboine River, city records say. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

The Assiniboine Park Zoo released an unknown amount of raw sewage for an unknown period of time into the Assiniboine River, City of Winnipeg records say.

The leak was discovered on Aug. 8 during routine maintenance, when city crews noticed a strong smell coming from a drain near the river.

Water and waste department employees later that afternoon took a sample of the smelly liquid for analysis. The sample was found to contain E. coli, a bacteria that indicates feces are present.

A spokesperson for the Assiniboine Park Zoo said they were notified Friday that the most likely source of the sewage was a seasonal concession stand, Winston's Ice Cream Shoppe, near the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden.

"Upon receipt of that information, we immediately ceased operation of the concession," the spokesperson said in an email. "We were not aware that there was a problem until Friday."

The city believes the leak was caused by an "an illegal sanitary connection" between the bathroom at the ice cream stand and the park's land drainage system. 

The toilet will remain out of service until it can be rerouted to the municipal sewer system, the report said.

The City of Winnipeg has notified Sustainable Development about the sewage leak. 

A spokesperson for the provncial department said it is premature to estimate what potential fines the zoo might face for the infraction.

"Assiniboine Park Zoo reported the incident to the province (as required) in a timely manner and took immediate action to stop the outflow," said a spokespersoon.

The province is investigating and reviewing whether to take any enforcement action.

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