Sewage Has Been Leaking Into Lake Ontario For Decades & The Problem Was Only Just Discovered

Since 1996.

A view of the Hamilton harbour.

A view of the Hamilton harbour.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 22, 2022, Hamilton Water maintenance staff discovered that a hole in a sewer pipe had been discharging sewage into Lake Ontario via the city's harbour for over two decades.

According to a press release by the City of Hamilton, the source of the spill was uncovered while workers were investigating a separate maintenance issue near the area of Burlington Street and Wentworth Street North.

A preliminary investigation has led staff to believe the hole in the sewer pipe was purposefully put in back in 1996.

"It appears that the contractor at the time was under the impression that all pipes were storm sewers and were designed to directly connect to box culverts leading out to the harbour," the report states.

The exact volume of discharge that has spilled into Hamilton harbour remains unknown. However, the city plans to publicly release the number as soon as their assessment is complete.

Andrea Horwath, Hamilton's mayor, also released a statement on the issue, in which she admits to being "concerned" about the spill but insistent that the discovery be made public knowledge.

"I have asked the City Auditor to investigate how this was missed for over 20 years," she said. "I'm committed to being transparent with you and I will continue to keep you informed as I receive more information."

"My promise to Hamiltonians is that the City will continue to make information available to the public as it becomes available," the statement adds.

Hamilton Water has taken short-term action to mitigate the spill to protect the environment, with staff following the "necessary notification protocol" to inform the province and other agencies.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Patrick John Gilson
Patrick John Gilson was a Creator with Narcity Media focused on Ontario gas prices and is based in Toronto, Ontario.