Metro Vancouver taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $100,000 in fines and environmental restoration costs after the region’s wastewater utility pleaded guilty to dumping raw sewage into Burrard Inlet.
The outflow of untreated wastewater happened in July 2011 at Brockton Point in Stanley Park after a large mass of items that never should have been flushed down the toilet balled up and clogged a pump at the Chilco Pumping Station.
Both Crown counsel and Metro’s Sewerage and Drainage District have agreed to ask a provincial court judge to impose a fine of $5,000 and a payment of $105,000 to the province’s environmental damages fund. Metro Vancouver is requesting that the funds be spent on environmental initiatives in the Lower Mainland.
“Our sewer system cannot handle a lot of materials that some of us flush down the toilet,” stated a Metro Vancouver press release. “When baby wipes, disposable mop cloths, feminine hygiene products and other items go down the toilet they can clump together and form a large, solid mass. This mass then blocks pipes and pumps, which can damage equipment and cause sewage to overflow into the environment and, ultimately, costs taxpayers money.”
If that isn’t enough to dissuade someone from flushing the unflushable, there’s also the thought that metro workers have to manually unblock pumping station pipes two to three times a week to keep the system running.
The guilty plea came a week before Metro Vancouver marked 100 years since it entered the liquid waste business in order to preserve salmon-bearing streams and stop outbreaks of typhoid fever near popular beaches.