Winnipeg, MB – The Preliminary 2022 Balanced Budget Update provides a significant acceleration of funding investments into Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO), adding $60 million to the six-year capital investment plan for a total investment of $240 million.
“The City is taking a historic step on our CSO problem,” said Brian Mayes, Chairperson of the Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment. “This is a billion-dollar challenge, and if the provincial or federal governments can match our $15 million annual increase to the $30 million base, we could be done this billion-dollar initiative in 20 years. I am proud to tell my children that the City is taking real action to reduce the sewage going into our rivers.”
About one third of the City's sewer systems were built before the 1960s and contain combined sewers. These sewers carry all of the wastewater flow to the sewage treatment plants during dry weather conditions. However, during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, there is the potential for basement flooding due to high volumes of land drainage entering the sewer system. CSOs are currently needed to protect basements from flooding by relieving excess flow to the river. By reducing CSOs, we can do our part to help protect the health of our rivers and lakes.
The acceleration of funding builds on the City’s leadership in its efforts to protect Lake Winnipeg through upgrades to the North End Sewage Treatment Plant (NEWPCC). The upgrades are vital to support the health of the Lake and with limited sewage treatment capacity remaining at NEWPCC, the upgrades will support economic development in Winnipeg.
Council approved the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) application for Phases 1 and 2 on September 26, 2019. Funding of $213 million for Phase 1 was announced in July 2021. The funding application for $368 million for phase 2 has been advanced to the federal government.
The Preliminary 2022 Balanced Budget Update also proposes an investment of $3 million into the water and sewer utility to begin the investigation of existing underground water and sewer capacity starting with the most critical areas of the city.
“The investments into mapping of the existing underground water and sewer capacity will begin to improve the process for planning future residential and commercial investments,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Planners and developers will begin to have greater access to the information that will allow them to make much more information at earlier planning stages thereby lowering some of the risks associated with investment.”