While the city already has plans in motion to reduce the flow of sewage and contaminated storm water into the Ottawa River, the head of council said yesterday the city will find more money for a massive storage container that will eliminate all spills into the river.
The city released its Ottawa River Action Plan yesterday. The plan is aimed at improving the health of the river and reducing the number of sewage overflows.
The announcement was made at the city’s west end regulator project, which, when completed this year, will reduce the volume of combined sewer overflows by 65 per cent. But that’s just the start of the plan to completely eliminate sewer overflows into the Ottawa River, said chairman of the planning and environment committee Peter Hume.
“We’re moving along that continuum to zero,” said Hume. “In order to get to zero … we have to take some bold and expensive steps to create storage in our system for 45 million litres of sewage.”
A key recommendation of the report is that the city spend an additional $140 million over the next five years for the creation of a storage tank to capture flows during wet weather. The sewer overflows would be pumped out to the city’s R.O. Pickard Environmental Centre at a later date.
“Whether we do it through our water rate or our tax base or we borrow the money, we will be finding the money to go forward with the additional $140 million of work over the coming years to solve this problem,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien.
“It’s no longer an environmental issue,” said federal infrastructure minister John Baird. “For many residents of the city of Ottawa, including myself, it’s a moral issue.”