Utilities Kingston turns to new technology to alert residents of sewer overflows

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Kingston –  It’s a first for Ontario.  A real time public notification system to alert residents of sewer overflows.  Bypasses happen on average about 20 times a year in Kingston.  In fact – millions of litres of diluted raw sewage was diverted into Lake Ontario twice this month because of heavy rainfall.  That’s where this new system comes in.  It alerts residents and visitors so they can make informed choices before they hit the water.

Mike Fischer/Utlities Engineer, Utlities Kingston
“As our sensors that are in the sewer system detect an overflow is happening, it sends that information to the map and the map displays the status of that overflow point.”

Bacteria levels in lakes and rivers are higher up to 48 hours after a significant downpour.  During that time swimming and other water related activities are not recommended.  This new technology breaks down an overflow cycle.  A red triangle indicates a bypass is happening.  If an event occurred within the last 48 hours – yellow. Finally green for no overflow.

Krystyn Tully/Vice President, Lake Ontario Water Keeper
“The truth is that the water is clean more often than it’s dirty so people no longer need to be afraid or worried that they don’t have all the information that they need to protect their health.”
Sarah Ryding/Manager, Environmental Health Team, KFL&A Public Health
“More information is better, transparency is fantastic and it just allows the public more resources, more bits of information that they can use to make an informed decision.”

Officials agree bypassing sewage is a problem.  The goal is to stop it completely.

Bryan Paterson/Kingston Mayor
“It’s a big project because we’ve got to redo an entire sewer system that quite frankly decades ago this was accepted practice and we want to move away from that.”

Jim Keech/CEO & President, Utilities Kingston
“Our main goal is to work towards sewer separation taking the combined sewage pipes out like we’re doing on Princess Street the Big Dig Projects are a great example of it, putting in a sanitary sewer and putting in a storm sewer so that you’re not mixing the storm and the
sanitary together so you don’t have the bypass events.”

But updating decades old infrastructure takes time.  Until then water users can turn to this new technology to stay up to date.  Nikki Jhutti, CKWS News Kingston.

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