City unsure what's causing sewer problem on Westboro street

The City of Ottawa says it's not sure why the sanitary sewer system is strained on Churchill Avenue North, where residents are being told to avoid washing and flushing.

40 residents advised to reduce water use on Churchill Avenue North

A wasterwater work crew tests for blockages in the city's sanitary sewer system at the corner of Churchill Avenue North and Selby Avenue. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)


  • The city lifted the Churchill Avenue water restrictions on May 3.

The city says it's not sure why the sanitary sewer system is strained in one Westboro neigbourhood.

About 40 homes near the northern end of Churchill Avenue are being asked to not use showers, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets.

The city said it wants to avoid backups causing flooding in homes.

"We don't have an exact cause, we're in the process of investigating and putting a solution together to mitigate these concerns," said Laila Gibbons, Ottawa's director of public works and environmental services.

Gibbons said the neighbourhood has separate storm and sanitary sewers: storm to handle drainage, sanitary to take away waste.

"We believe this is a unique situation and that it is isolated," she said.

There are portable toilets for residents under the water use advisory for Churchill Avenue North. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Some residents such as Jane Parpart are nervously watching rising water accumulate on a nearby field north of Selby Avenue. 

"This is one of the problems that we're all worried [about], that there could be a backup in the house through the toilet," she said.

She said they received a similar advisory in 2017, when there was some overland flooding.

"There's a lot that has to be learned," she said.

"I think if this is going to happen every year or two, we're going to have to develop a better system for handling it.

Jane Parpart said the water use advisory is frustrating, but the city's response to flooding on Churchill Avenue North has improved from 2017. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

City crews were testing for blockages in the system late Wednesday afternoon. Sandbags have been placed at the edge of the Selby field and around road drains.

The city has set up portable toilets just off of Churchill Avenue. People can go to the Dovercourt Recreation Complex for showers.