Fixing the flooding problem could cost the city over $5 million, according to a consultant. However, the cost only covers certain high priority projects to avert flooding, such as sewer upgrades and new sewer lines.
"I would say if the budget goes forward and if it's approved, it's the largest infrastructure project (the city has) got in 2013," said the City's director of infrastructure and sustainable development Kevin Henderson.
"It's much needed and hopefully we'll go forward on it."
While some flooding has occurred in the city over the past ten years, Mayor Mike Bernier said citizens brought forward concerns of home flooding after summer storms in 2011.
At the meeting, one man, who did not give his name, told the councillors that his home had been flooded four times in the past ten years.
However, one resident on Chamberlain Drive has said that she is pleased with the city’s recent steps to consider adding it to their 2013 infrastructure budget.
“It's wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” said Cari Walker, whose house is on Chamberlain Drive.
She said her home has been flooded multiple times over the past ten years, including one stretch where it was twice in two weeks.
This has caused portions of her home to be damaged and require complete restoration.
At times, frogs and earthworms have even entered their basement because of the flooding.
“We've had to rip out our whole basement. carpet, drywall, replace furniture, replace hot water tanks, and replaced everything, absolutely everything,” she said.
She is not alone. Carla Hustak, whose house is also on Chamberlain Drive, said that sewage has gone up to her knees.
“This whole block, the city sewer couldn’t keep up with it or all the water, so all the sewers on the street started to back up,” she said.
She said she has concerns that this flooding could happen again.
“It wouldn’t nice to replace the furnace and hot water heater every year.”
Both Hustak and Walker have had to wait days while restoration companies remove the sewage from their homes while these companies were busy dealing with other clients.
“We've had to walk around in other people's sewage to salvage what we can, the air quality in the house is absolutely outrageous because you've had a sewage soaked crescent potentially up to a few days until the restoration company get to it because there has been so many people,” Walker added.
“The only way to get rid of it is to pump it out into your backyard which is awesome because that's where the kids get to play,” Walker added, sarcastically.
Nevertheless, she praised the restoration company’s efforts in fixing her home.
“The restoration companies over the last few times have been absolutely fabulous but they have had a huge flow of people.”
In the past, she has relied on insurance to pay these companies. However, her flood deductible has risen, and she is worried that at some point her insurance could stop providing this service.
She said that she and others on the block have contacted city staff and councillors about this issue.
While she praised city council for their early steps towards these fixes, Walkers said she and others would be annoyed if the city did not proceed with these fixes.
“Until you have lived through it, you have no idea how gross (house flooding) is,” she said.
Problems like these have led to the City hiring the consulting firm Kerr Wood Leidal to examine the problem and inspect the city's sewer system.
Their report was given to council last Monday. In it, they found that some areas were more likely to overflow than others, including homes on Chamberlain Drive.
They also found that many of the existing sewers had some defects, especially those that were made with clay from the 1950s and 1960s.
By inserting cameras into the ground, they found that some pipes had serious defects, including cracks and other damages.
While 11 per cent of these clay pipes had no defects, the remainder of these pipes had varying levels of defects within them. Approximately 23 per cent of these clay pipes had problems that were classified as Level 5, which meant they had the most severe type of defects.
The pictures presented to city council showed severe encrustation that took up a large portion of what should have been a clean, round pipe. Some pipes were infiltrated by soil, according to Neal Whiteside, Kerr Wood Leidal’s chief engineer that spoke at city council’s meeting.
In response to these concerns, Kerr Wood Leidal made a number of recommendations to city council. These included some immediate repairs, and a clay sewer replacement program.
Henderson later said that the City does not use clay pipelines anymore, and that any existing ones were laid in earlier.
He said that the City's long-term goal is to replace these pipelines.
In addition to these placements, many new lines also need to be laid, as the firm’s modeling indicated that portions of the system are already over-capacity.
Last Monday, the City looked at three options, and decided on an option to install a new trunk line.
“The cheapest, easiest, fastest fix is to install a new major trunk line paralleling the Alaska Highway more into two distinct type of zones where the upper hill section can drain separately without going into the downtown area.”
The City went for this project as according to Kerr Wood Leidal, this offered the lowest costs and less public inconvenience than other options.
For this project, approximately $5 million is needed to repair these systems. The main trunk line would cost $4 million, and would divert the water from the north into nearby lagoons. This would divert it from its current location to pipes south of the city. Information presented by Kerr Wood Leidal said this would help make sure Chamberlain Drive and other areas are not subject to flooding.
The City would also spend approximately $1.2 million to replace sewers west of 17th St. starting at 99 Ave., and west of 13 St. to 15 St. and 97 Ave.
An additional $3 million would be needed for less pressing concerns, along with other costs associated with the projects. This includes re-grading local sewers, and upgrades to other sewer points.
Last Monday, council made a motion to put this forward into the 2013 capital budget, the portion of city funds used to pay for buildings and other infrastructure.
Because of the large amount of funds needed for these sewer repairs, the City may be forced to borrow money to pay for these upgrades, said Bernier.
In 2012, the City’s forecasted total capital expenditures were $22.6 million, according to information available on the City’s website.
Shelly Woolf, the City’s chief financial officer, said that the City will look at reserves, a possible water fee increase, and possibly borrowing money to pay for these upgrades when the budget is decided.
Councillors will then vote on what measures they would like to take.
However, councillors seemed to support the idea.
“I think we’re at step one and we need to make sure we start on the right step,” said councillor Terry McFadyen.
Councillor Duncan Malkinson also said that he believed the project “seems like a good start.”