CSO Master Plan

Combined Sewer Overflow Animation

Combined Sewer Overflow Animation

We are developing a plan to manage the effects of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) on our rivers in an environmentally sound, sustainable and cost-effective manner.

Why does Winnipeg have CSOs?

The Winnipeg sewer system was originally a single pipe system combining all storm drainage, domestic and industrial wastewater in one pipe to the rivers.  Today the single pipe combined system, which serves the older parts of the city, includes an interceptor system that carries all flow during dry weather to sewage treatment plants where it is cleaned and disinfected prior to being discharged to the rivers.

During wet weather events, the combined sewers system cannot handle all of the runoff that enters the system and it can flow at discharge points directly to the rivers.

These types of combined sewer overflows are common to older cities across Canada and worldwide.  Since the 1960’s, cities, including Winnipeg, have been working to reduce these discharges.


What happens now?

We are working with consultants to develop a CSO Master Plan to set, and eventually achieve, control limits for CSOs to protect river quality.  Developing a master plan includes:

  • developing a hydraulic computer model of the combined and sanitary sewer system for the entire city,
  • exploring standards and CSO control solutions in other cities,
  • water quality and flow monitoring,
  • identifying and evaluating cost effective control options,
  • investigating potential pilot studies to test the effectiveness of CSO control options and how well they work in Winnipeg.

The CSO Master Plan will:

  • identify and evaluate CSO control limits,
  • provide a basis for responding to Provincial Environment Act Licence No. 3042,
  • integrate work done to date and enhance our knowledge of the sewer system,
  • recommend a long-term sustainable plan to reduce CSOs.

We will work with stakeholders to get their input on how to make choices and decisions about CSOs that meet licence requirements, our collective needs, and help us achieve the outcomes and future we want together.

Let us know what you think

We invite you or a representative of your organization to attend a public meeting about the City of Winnipeg’s Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan. We are required to limit CSOs to meet provincial legislation.

Location: West End Cultural Centre, 586 Ellice Avenue

Date Monday, Sept 14, 2015 Tuesday, Sept 15, 2015
Registration and coffee 9:00 – 9:30 am 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Presentation 9:30 – 10:00 am 6:00 – 6:30 pm
Question & answer period 10:00 – 11:00 am 6:30 – 7:30 pm
17 comments on “CSO Master Plan
  1. Pam Tonsaker says:

    Sorry, but this problem that is extremely important is over my head and i really wouldn’t have anything to contribute except in the way of taxes, as I’m sure that this will take millions of $’s to implement. It’s too bad that during the information presented on line, that a $ figure was not given, nor was how the provincial government will be involved.

    It also would have been nice to know if I could find out if my area has combined sewer hookup or not.


    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment Pam.

      To learn more about much it will cost to reduce CSOs you can visit today’s topic.

      To find out where the combined sewer area is you can view this map. If you still want to know for your specific property you can contact 311.

  2. Jan Lankester says:

    The information is enlightening and as the previous commentor stated, somewhat over my head in terms of suggestions. My biggest concerns are:
    1) presently, what state (pollution wise) are both the Assiniboine and the Red rivers in? How is pollution (OR pollutants) measured and what so far has been recommended as an acceptable level? HOW BAD is it?
    most citizens will definitely want to know this at the meeting or before please.

    2) what businesses along the riverways impact on leakage of chemicals & other toxins or spills, into the rivers? are they held responsible for accidental releases into the CSO system? If so, what happens: fines?, Large ones? Are they public record?….vital for ‘peggers to know about this please.

    3) ban of chemical use on all lawns should be immediately introduced IMHO. Our lakes and rivers are far too important and we seem to be taking notice way too late.

    4) what can the general public do to help cut down with waste entering our waterways? In plain language, what should be used in washing, cleaning, watering etc……

    5) overall costs $$$$-wise please, a breakdwon of time line for this huge project, who will be responsible for very tough/stringent oversight? what consulting companies have been on board thus far, with what requirements will be needed, input from cities elsewhere and what they have initiated? Pros & cons presented please. Honestly.

    The “Budget” is my huge concern. Wpg is not known for controlling costs on some VERY
    significant projects to date. In fact, it’s been a nightmare. Must take this seriously. Citizens attending will want facts, figures and clear concise answers.

    • waterandwasteadmin says:

      Hi Jan,

      We’ve put together some information for you based on your comment:

      1. The pollutants of concern for CSOs are Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorous and bacteria. We have water quality data for our rivers posted on the web. There are also provincial water quality standards available for review, too. Finally, we are also publishing CSO monitoring results here.

      2. The sewer bylaw governs what can and can’t be discharged into our sewer systems and the fine schedule. It can be found here.
      Individual property violations are not published.

      3. A synthetic lawn pesticide ban has been introduced by the Manitoba Government. For more information on this ban, please visit Conservation and Water Stewardship website.

      4. Citizens of Winnipeg can definitely help protect our waterways. A great resource is Lake Friendly.

      5. Cost can vary from $0.6 to $4.1 Billion depending on the level of CSO control selected by the Province. CH2M Consulting has been hired as the prime consultant. The City has been engaging other municipalities to seek input on what they have done. These will be included in the Preliminary Proposal to the Province. Additional pros and cons will be presented at the public open house on September 14-15 and will be posted on our website shortly. If you can’t make it in person, you can also voice your opinion online.

  3. Jan Lankester says:

    Sorry-One other comment as I noticed the timeline states:

    “DEC 2017… Submit final CSO Master Plan to Province”
    with CSO Masterplan IMPLEMENTATION Phase III after 2018 and beyond…..

    How does the City of Wpg pay for all of this?

    • waterandwasteadmin says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jan.

      The project will be funded through increases in water and sewer utility bills. The City will also try to secure funding from other levels of government.

      • Kyle says:

        So if its going to be paid for by increases in water and sewer bills, basically it will become impossible to afford living here. Great! What next?

        • waterandwasteadmin says:

          The City will seek funding opportunities from the other levels of government. We are doing our part to protect the long term health of our rivers and lakes.

          • Kyle says:

            And i think protecting rivers and lakes is a great idea. The thing is though, when the city is forced to do something that will cost billions and probably be billions more over budget, just to prevent 5% of nitrogen and 6% phosphorus and a little poop from entering the rivers? There will still be huge amounts of algae in lake Winnipeg and all the main contributors to that, dont have to do a thing. That is what frustrates me. And also the fact that manitoba will force winnipeg to go full out on this project, so cost will be minimum 4.1 billion, and like everything else be 20% or more over budget, while the other governments only put up 250 million each, and our water bills go from 200 to 600.

          • Andrei says:

            I agree! There must be a clear value statement, like ‘reducing nitrogen by 50% at the lake entry’. And what would happen to some very specific individuals if the goals aren’t met including budget overruns.
            I for example know well what would happen if I don’t pay property tax. Similarly, I’d like to see something significant happening to people who mismanage my paid taxes.

  4. Anne Bubbs says:

    The meeting September 14 was very informative. It was well presented and easy to understand. The health of the rivers and Lake Winnipeg is very important, but health of people comes first, and having three major sewage events in less than six weeks is not healthy for the residents of my building. We need immediate help!

  5. Andrei says:

    Given the size of this project, this is a great opportunity for the city to become more transparent.

    I can see the timeline, which is good. It would be nice to add what will be the outcome of each phase and $$ budgeted/spent. With as much details as possible – given that every taxpayer would foot the bill.

    As for the options, it would be nice to see the cause and effect. Like by spending so much per household, we would achieve ..% reduction in this and that.

    Te project should be very open to the public bidding, so that wide range of alternatives could be considered. For example, if rain water is the problem – should we try to capture that (clean) water instead of mixing it with sewage and then spending $$ on more sewage treatment facilities?

    • waterandwasteadmin says:

      Thank you for your comment.
      As currently shown in the timeline, December 2015 is when we will provide the Province with our preliminary proposal and recommendation on the control limits. The Province will select a control limit and we will have until December 2017 to provide an implementation plan on how we will achieve this goal. At this point we will come back and engage with the public in developing the implementation plan. The Plan may include but not limited to the following: green technologies; deep tunnels; in-line/off-line storage; and separation.

      For this project CH2M was awarded the consultant contract for $4.1 million for the CSO Master Plan. This consists of all work until December 2017.

      The project will be funded through increases in water and sewer utility bills. The City will also try to secure funding from other levels of government.
      The storyboards provided during the public engagement process outline the options and their associated costs.

  6. Ruby Kenning says:

    Re: admin says: March 3, 2015 at 10:35 am
    To find out where the combined sewer area is you can view this map.
    ACCESS IS DENIED …. must be member, etc. (blog)

    This came to me as I have signed up for City of Winnipeg subscribed e-mail from COW website …E-mail title …’Public Engagement News -COW’. My response should be the ability to response in e-mail form and not be forced to accept COW’s choice.

    • waterandwasteadmin says:

      Thank you Ruby for letting us know about this error, and we have corrected it so that you can see the image.

      If you would like to submit your comments on the project you can always email us.

  7. Dan McInnis says:

    Thank you for this opportunity to participate.

    1. Whatever the final design, it will be costly. Consider establishing a land drainage utility to fund the costs. This is in keeping with the concept of polluter-pays and is equitable and fair to all. As well, land owners will take measures to reduce run-off in order to avoid paying. It doesn’t have to be a complicated system either – KISS.

    2. Obey the law. The current Environment Act CSO License (section 8) states that the CoW shall not increase the frequency or volume of CSOs due to new and upgraded land development activities and shall use green technology and innovative practises in the design and operation of all new and upgraded storm and wastewater infrastructure. This is clearly not happening – case in point, new Walmart on Taylor (and many many others).

    3. Incorporate green practises into the building requirements/code in order to reduce peak flows. Green roofs are a good example of this and provide other benefits as well. There are many examples of how this works (Dockside Green in Victoria) and a good guide is “Artful Rainwater Design; Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater” by Echols and Pennypacker.

    4. Reinstitute regular inspections of commercial and residential locations that may be diverting rain water into the sewer system (i.e. the south area of the City in particular).

    Good luck!

    • waterandwasteadmin says:

      Thank you for your comment.
      Instituting a land drainage surcharge or changes in the building requirements to incorporate green technology would be a policy issue that would need to be decided at a higher level. Any development in the City is required to meet pre-development run-off flows. An example would be when a gravel site is later developed, the run-off from the new development would have to be designed to discharge the same as if it was the gravel site. In this example the developer may meet the requirement by installing a number of options to hold the water: roof storage, parking lot storage, underground tanks, retention ponds, etc.

      Green technologies will be incorporated where possible. Some green technologies require building owners to install, operate and maintain, such as the green roofs mentioned.

      We have been conducting regular Lot Grading By-law inspections since 1995, to ensure that sump pump water is being properly discharged onto private property. An additional sump pump inspection program was undertaken in 2007. It was determined that 20,807 homes out of 22,773 had a sump pump hose connected at the discharge outlet at the foundation – 91%. The most common violation is placing the hose so that the water drains onto the street or lane. We conduct regular inspections and issue by-law infraction notices as required.