Efforts to bypass Queens Way lift station successful; community efforts helped mitigate environmental impacts

Map shows the alignment of the sanitary forcemain from the Downtown lift station to the Queens Way lift station. Wastewater that would flow this route was trucked to other manholes to bypass Queens Way.

The District of Squamish and its contractors made good progress overnight to mitigate impacts from the Queens Way lift station failure. Crews were successful in setting up a bypass line around the failure to enable wastewater to flow directly from the downtown lift station to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Vacuum trucks worked all night to transport wastewater to other manholes in the community while the bypass was installed. The impacts to the Squamish Estuary were limited and ended at approximately 9:30 p.m. last night. The community was an important part of this effort as they reduced their water use where possible.

The discharge to the Squamish Estuary was an absolute last resort when every other effort was exhausted, and when wastewater volumes exceeded the capacity of the lift station and trucking capability. This discharge was required to avoid backing up wastewater into peoples’ homes and businesses. The District is working with the Ministry of Environment to follow all necessary regulatory protocols.

“We are very grateful to a large number of people who responded in the last 24 hours – many residents and businesses reduced their water use; several local contractors stepped up with offers of help; and District crews and contractors worked around the clock in emergency response mode,” says District of Squamish Mayor, Armand Hurford.

The request for residents and businesses south of the Mamquam River to reduce water use has now been lifted. The new system is working well, and the infrastructure has caught up with the backlog of volume.

Work to replace the failed manhole at the lift station will now be expedited.

The District acknowledges that the public will have questions as to what happened and why. Staff were aware of issues with the Queens Way manhole due to its age (approximately 25 years), and had a project planned (and out for bids) to replace the manhole this spring. Very recently, staff observed an increased deterioration at the site, and so emergency work to build a bypass had been scheduled for last night (Saturday night). This would have enabled the bypass work to take place overnight while wastewater flows were at their lowest, allowing the trucking of the waste to keep up with the volumes. The failure unfortunately occurred Saturday morning, prompting the unplanned emergency response while wastewater flows were at their highest during the day.

“Just like most communities across the country, we have a long list of aging underground infrastructure to upgrade, and we have spent 10s of millions of dollars annually over the last decade to do the work laid out in master plans,” continues Hurford. “In this case, the failure happened before we could implement the solution. This is not the norm. This replacement work was budgeted and prioritized for this spring, and so now this work has been expedited.”

A heartfelt thank you is extended to the community for their support through this emergency response. “We are incredibly grateful for the community we have, and the support we were shown yesterday,” continues Hurford.

January 15, 2023

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