Hamilton uncovers another decades old leak dumping sewage into Lake Ontario

HAMILTON- The City of Hamilton says it has uncovered another sewage leak that has been dumping waste into Lake Ontario for more than two decades, with the mayor saying they will continue to search for other leaks underground.

The revelation comes after the city reported in November that a leak discovered to be from 1996 had dumped 337 million litres of sewage into the Hamilton harbour in the 26 years it went undetected.

The city says it confirmed the latest leak, also believed to present since 1996, on Monday after an investigation into the previous leak.

It says the investigation shows as many as 11 residential properties have been discharging wastewater into the harbour since 1996, when a 100-year-old combined sewer pipe was connected to a newly constructed storm sewer.

The city says staff are not aware of how much sewage has been dumped into the harbour since then, but pledge to report the number when an assessment is complete.

Mayor Andrea Horwath said Tuesday they discovered the most recent leak shortly after launching a risk-assessment tool to help find other leaks.

It is a pilot program that inspects areas of the sewer system where the same cross connections responsible for the leak uncovered in November could be present.

“We’ve had two of them now, and we want to keep being proactive and not just waiting for some bad news to hit,” she said.

“Let’s be proactive, let’s do right by water, by the environment, by our obligation to this Earth and proactively deal with these things.”

Horwath said the city’s 1,000 kilometres of pipe is the third oldest sewage system in the country.

“We’re going to work with the Ministry of the Environment, with the provincial and federal governments to try to fix some of the legacy of these old pipes and old systems,” she said.

In 2018, the city discovered a massive sewage leak that spilled

24 billion litres of sewage into Chedoke Creek. The city is still cleaning that up.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2023.


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