Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Over the past few weeks we’ve trekking through the creek, identifying problem outfalls, and compiling our materials. Now we’re ready for you!

Are you looking to get outside this fall? Learn about your watershed and the impacts we as Hamiltonians are having on it? Looking to make a difference and help improve the creek’s health? Great! You have the makings of a Pipewatcher!

Join us at one or more of FREE workshops taking place this September. Within one hour we’ll have you identifying the combined sewer and storm outfalls within your area, monitoring them to identify problem discharges, and feeling empowered to report concerns to the appropriate channels. To register, please contact Katie at the Environment Hamilton office (905-549-0900).

Area 1: Valley Park (Meet outside the Valley Park Library) 
Wed. Sept 5 @ 6:30pm & Sat. Sept 8 @ 11:00am

Area 2: Greenhill (Meet at the corner of Greenhill + Quigley Rd)
Wed. Sept. 12 @ 6:30pm & Sat. Sept. 15 @ 11:00am 

Area 3: McQuesten (Meet at the corner of Melvin + Talbot St.)
Wed. Sept. 19 @ 6:30pm 

Area 4: Rosedale (Meet outside the Bocce Ball Club)
Sat. Sept. 22 @ 11:00am

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Keep the Sediment Out!

Does this look concerning to you? It does to us. The picture was taken on August 13th, 2012 at the corner of Kentley and Nugent, the current worksite of FER-PAL, a construction company specializing in water main restoration. 

Not only was this sediment being tracked down Kently by passing cars, but it was flowing into the city's storm sewers - which bypass the waste water treatment plant and flow directly into the watershed. 

Remembering the effort the city put into reducing excess sediment from flowing into the sewers during the Red Hill construction, Environment Hamilton asked Councillor Collins (in additon to sending him this picture) whether the city required contractors to take specific measures to minimalize sediment flow into the sewer system. 

Chad forwarded our concern to Public Works who confirmed that contractors "are required to have filtration cloth on all catchbasins prior to work commencing". They then made the assurance that all catch basins in the area would equipped with the filtration cloth and inspection staff will follow up with the concern. 

The result? Check out the image below. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

How Many Can You Spot??

This morning Pipewatch headed down to Davis Creek (the section just south of the Quigley Rd and Greenhill Ave intersection) to do a practice benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring session. 

What are benthic macroinvertebrates you ask? Great question! Benthic macroinvertebrates, or creek critters as they’re commonly known, are “relatively sedentary organisms that inhabit or depend upon the sedimentary environment for their various life functions. Therefore, they are sensitive to both long-term and short-term changes in habitat, sediment, and water quality.”

Since they are so sensitive  to changes in the creek bed/water, monitoring them is an effective way to track a creek’s health over time. 
Keep an eye out for Creek Critter monitoring workshops coming this fall! Here we'll be teaching students and residents how to identify these organisms so that they can determine the health of their neighboring watershed. 
In the meantime, how many sowbugs can you see in this sample? 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Did You Hear About the Floodplains and the Flood Hot Spots?

In case you missed it, the Spectator has recently reported about the City's plans to remap the creek floodplain and digitally map Hamilton's flooding hot spots. Check out the articles below to learn more!  

A Wave of Concern About New Area Maps (August 2, 2012)

The conservation authority will remap the floodplain of creeks across Hamilton, an exercise that could have implications for existing homes and new development across the city.
The $500,000 project is expected to take at least five years and will re-examine flood lines — the flooding high-water mark during major storms — for Hamilton’s creeks and smaller tributaries, including Red Hill, Battlefield and Spencer.

To read more, please click here.

City to Make Map Flooding Hot Spots (August 3, 2012) 

The city is digitally mapping about 900 flooding “hot spots” across the city that crews inspect in advance of a big storm. The city is assigning GIS co-ordinates for each hot spot to allow for easier tracking and trend-spotting, but the map won’t be available to the public online.

To read more, please click here

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

When It Rains, It Pours... And Floods

While all Hamiltoanians have experienced the recent storm events in some capacity, certain neighborhoods are really feeling the impacts. 

One area in particular is Greenhill Avenue just west of Quigley Rd, which we came across on July 27th while searching for outfalls in the area. It was clear that not only a major storm event had taken place, but extensive flooding had occurred as well. Check out the picture below. Can you see the mud on the road and on the curb? This led us to believe that the creek rose to the point where it flowed over the culvert and across the street - which is very high! 

We later spoke to residents within the area who confirmed the flooding. According to them, the  heavy rain events on July 22nd caused boulders within the creek to be washed downstream -- which resulted in extensive area flooding, uprooting of trees which bordered the creek bed, and high volumes of mud. Needless to say the city had a large cleanup job on their hands! 

In addition to the roadway being a clear indicator of high water levels, the creek bank itself was also very telling. Check out the picture below, which was taken at a stretch of Davis Creek just north of Mud Rd. Notice how the lower shrubbery is all folded over in the direction of the current? This shows us how high the water level rose in the Valley Park area and how powerful the current was. 

All Plugged Up and Nowhere to Go

This shot was taken on July 10th at the huge storm sewer outfall along the Red Hill expressway near Barton St. In addition to the fowl odor and murky waters which surrounded the area, the obvious build up within the grate showed a cause for concern!

Why are blocked outfall pipes a concern you ask? Let's consider Hamilton's sewer system - which consists of two types of outfalls. 

Combined Sewer Outfalls

Currently, the older portions of the city's sewer system collects both domestic sewage (from sink drains and toilets) and storm water runoff in a single pipe called a combined sewer.  This mixture, called combined sewage, is then sent to the Woodward Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for treatment. During dry weather or small rainstorms, all combined sewage receives full treatment before it is discharged to Hamilton Harbour. 

During heavy rainstorms however, the excess water can cause excess combined sewage that the sewer system can’t handle. To address this problem, the city has 6 Combined Sewer Overflow Tanks. These tanks store the excess combined sewage during rainstorms. The tanks are filled by gravity, and when flows subside after a rainstorm, their liquid contents are drained or pumped back into the combined sewer system and conveyed to the Woodward Avenue WWTP where they are treated.

In some cases, the rainfall will be so heavy that the system and the tanks become overloaded as well. When this happens, the excess wastewater will be discharged directly into Hamilton’s natural waterways (at either Hamilton Harbour, Cootes Paradise, Chedoke Creek, or the Red Hill Creek). These discharge points are called Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO).

Storm Sewer Outfalls 

The storm sewers located on our roadways and in front of our properties are meant for storm water runoff only — as the materials that go down these drains filter directly into our natural waterways. These discharge points are referred to as storm outfalls. 

Given their nature, these two types of discharge points should only be flowing if there is excess combined sewage or excess road water. If these outfalls become plugged or backed up (like the grate on this outfall), the water and combined sewage within the overloaded system will need to find another release point. Say, residential basements? 

To address this outfall a picture was sent to Ward Councillors Merulla and Collins. They sent it on to the City Manager and Public Works staff who cleaned out the grate by the next morning. The city said it was unsure as to why their protocol to visit 'priority outfalls' pre- and post- storm events was not followed. 

Unfortunately, upon more recent visits, it appears that the debris on the grate is already beginning to accumulate again. So let's keep an eye out on this one!  

*Information from this post was taken from the City of Hamilton's website.