The Trouble with Water in our Sewers

The Trouble with Water in our Sewers

The Trouble with Water in our Sewers

Sometimes water gets into sanitary sewer pipes that shouldn’t be there — this is called inflow and infiltration. This includes rainwater and groundwater that infiltrates through holes and cracks, leaking pipe joints or maintenance hole covers, and inflows from roof and foundation drains that are improperly connected to a property’s sanitary sewer line.

Sometimes this water gets directly into our municipal and regional sewers, but often it gets in at private properties that are connected to the sewer system.

During rainstorms, inflow and infiltration causes problems like sewer backups and basement flooding. For municipalities and Metro Vancouver, it can result in less capacity in pipes for community growth, increased costs to pump and treat large amounts of diluted wastewater, overloaded sanitary sewers and wastewater treatment plants, as well as sanitary sewer overflows into the environment.

The extent of the problem varies across the region and even from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

Metro Vancouver is working with cities in the region to reduce inflow and infiltration by:

  • Incorporating reduction targets and strategies into regional liquid waste and resource management planning
  • Helping to identify neighbourhoods with high levels of inflow and infiltration
  • Establishing technical working groups including Metro Vancouver and municipal staff to work towards solutions in problem neighbourhoods
  • Exploring ways to encourage fixing problems on private properties
  • Planning for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance to prevent future sewer overflows.

Learn what you can do to help.