‘The toilet is not a garbage can’: Sewer main cleaning to cost City $1.4 million

The 166,450 kilogram blockage of plastics, rags, sand and wet wipes pulled out of the trunk sewer along 15th St. -- Submitted by the City of Prince Albert.

During his State of the City Address on Thursday, Mayor Greg Dionne said trying to convince people that garbage shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet is a major issue faced by the Department of Public Works.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have is trying to convince the general public that the toilet is not a garbage can,” said Dionne. “Please, watch your kids. Teach everyone the difference.”

Last summer, the City hired a specialty hydro-jetting company from Winnipeg to clean 603 meters of the large trunk sewer on 15th Street, during which they discovered a blockage of more than 166,000 kg of plastics, rags, sand, and wet wipes.

During Dionne’s address, he said the garbage was removed from only 103 meters of sewage main at the intersections of 15th Street and Second Avenue West and 15th Street and Sixth Avenue East.

“That was the result of what gets flushed down the toilets or what gets put into the sewers during storms and events and stuff like that,” explained Public Works Director Wes Hicks in an interview with the Herald. “We knew there was some kind of blockage because the water level was always so high.”

Once those items were removed, the water levels in the trunk sewer subsided, indicating something else may be out there, mentioned Hicks.

Within the next few months, Public Works is planning to send a report to City Council to figure out ways of funding a cleaning of Prince Albert’s entire trunk sewer, from the foot of the hill by the Victoria Hospital all the way to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“We’re trying to put a plan together for Council to come up with a way that we could possibly make this happen this summer,” Hicks added.

The project will cost the City approximately $1.4 million to clean the entire seven km of trunk sewer.