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Efforts intensify to address sewage spill into Red River at Fort Garry Bridge

The City of Winnipeg says it is still hard at work trying to resolve the sewage that is spilling into the Red River at Fort Garry Bridge.

The leak was found in one of two pipes that run under the river near the Fort Garry Bridge during a routine inspection at the end of November last year.

The city says the leaky pipe was immediately taken out of service and the remaining pipe was found to be in poor condition but it could still handle the flow across the river.

On Feb. 5, the city began building a bypass system across the bridge to restore sewage collection capacity. But two days after the bypass work, the pipe failed and due to the second failure, the work to assemble the bypass system over the bridge was accelerated. Provincial and federal agencies were notified of this environmental issue.

“Our crews and contractors have been working tirelessly to address the leak, and get a more stable bypass system in place,” said Tim Shanks, director of the water and waste department.

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“Under normal circumstances, the work involved in building a bypass system of this type is very challenging and would take upwards of five weeks. But we’ve been considerably expediting efforts to stop the leak.”

The city says the situation is complicated because crews would normally run equipment through a barrage of tests before going into operation.

“Our crews have had to make constant adjustments in real-time, and it’s incredibly delicate work,” Shanks said.

The bypass system has been running since Feb. 17 but it is not fully complete. Two pumps are needed to handle all of the flow in the sewer but one of the pumps is undergoing tests to resolve mechanical issues discovered last week.

The flow in the sewer varies during the day, and during peak flow times, the single bypass pump does not always keep up. When this happens, the excess flow in the sewer is spilled into the river.

The city says it anticipates the second pump will be ready by the end of the week.

Residents near the area are advised to keep an eye on their water use.

“By taking these steps, it will help reduce the amount of sewage that flows into the river while repairs are ongoing,” Shanks said. “There is no risk of drinking water contamination due to this sewer issue, and our community can continue to rely on safe drinking water.”

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