The city has more work to do rooting out illegal sewer connections along Chedoke Creek, a university student study suggests.
Analytical chemistry students at Ancaster’s Redeemer University College presented tests results Thursday to city and Royal Botanical Gardens officials showing high bacteria levels near Mountview Falls relative to four other test sites along the west-end creek.
“Our hypothesis is it was probably coming from underground, likely in sewage,” said second-year student Matthew Horvath, one of 10 students in on the study. “There were high levels at a few locations, but the Mountview location really stood out.”
That’s quite possible, said Mark Bainbridge, the city’s harbour cleanup point person. He said the city is doing “cross-connection” tests as part of a pollution-seeking project in Dundas, the Red Hill Valley and along Chedoke Creek.
Cross-connections are illegal hookups between the sanitary and storm sewers that can send sewage into the environment rather than to the treatment plant.
“We’ve seen issues in our own testing. We’ll compare these results and see if they help us,” he said, applauding the students for their work. “We can’t do this alone … we need community input and engagement.”
Bainbridge said the city has already fixed 46 cross-connections in residential areas along Chedoke Creek, but there is more work to do.
Testing by Environment Hamilton earlier this year revealed pollution hot spots along the Red Hill Creek. The city is also doing tests in that area to try to reveal bad sewer connections. Citywide recommendations will eventually follow the pilot project.
Associate professor Darren Brouwer said the project was meant as a practical learning experience that would engage students in the community. “This was a great way to get them out in the city and apply their learning to a real issue.”