Bay sludge raises a stink

scotto

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Crews working through weekend to clean up Windermere Basin
By Jacquie De Almeida
The Hamilton Spectator

Ted Brellisford, the Hamilton Spectator
Workers vacuum up the black, oily effluent that surfaced in Windermere Basin yesterday. The sludge is giving off a horrendous odour.


Environmental crews began cleaning up a thick black foul-smelling sludge that bubbled up to the surface of the Windermere Basin yesterday.

Hamilton's director of water and waste water Jim Harnum suspects the sludge is naturally occurring algae that has built up over time in the southeast corner of Hamilton Harbour.

He said the oily algae is a product of the city's waste- water treatment plant as well as combined sewer overflows from heavy rainfall that occasionally overloads the system and forces authorities to discharge it either into the harbour or the basin.

Harnum said the water looks black as a result of nitrification, a process in which a lack of oxygen in the water causes the algae to blacken and become septic. The algae and the gases it produces float to the water's surface, creating a rotting odour, he said.

"Over time, those solids that are in overflows settle to the bottom and that builds up bacteria and algae. That algae releases and floats to the top and you see what you're seeing today," he said. The discharge of storm overflows is done in accordance with Ministry of the Environment regulations, Harnum said.

He said the city called in Team 1 Environmental Services Inc. to clean up the mess yesterday. Crews arrived around 3 p.m., equipped with two 13,000 litre pump trucks to vacuum up the sludge and dispose of it.

Harnum said the sludge is making its way beneath a city-installed boom -- a floating wall that prevents solid debris from entering the harbour -- and is slowly migrating into Hamilton's east harbour. He added Team 1 is installing a second boom to try to catch anything that gets beyond the first boom.

Team-1 manager Mitchell Gibbs said the sludge is bubbling up to the surface "almost like an oil spill" and is giving off a horrendous odour he described as "rotting, decaying garbage."

Crews will work through the weekend to clean up the sludge and other debris such as bottles and cans as well as condoms and feminine hygiene products.

He said he expects to pump 30,000 litres of surface sludge out of the area and take it to a disposal site in Brantford.

Environment Hamilton executive director Lynda Lukasik said she's concerned about why it took the city a day to get crews on site to clean up the mess.

"There was a little bit of a delay there in doing anything about it, which is kind of troublesome, but they're there now," Lukasik said, adding the group called the Ministry of the Environment Thursday morning and notified the city of the problem.

Harnum said the city had staff at the site monitoring the situation and collecting samples on Thursday and that Team 1 was called in yesterday when it was determined the situation was getting worse.

Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins said the basin was due to be dredged this year, a process that involves cleaning out the 3.5-metre deep basin. Collins said $9 million was put aside to dredge the basin but that work hadn't started because no decision had been made on where to put the sludge. Council is in discussions with the environment ministry and the port authority to determine where it will go, he added.

Harnum said the city will have a better idea early next week of what happened, how it can be prevented in the future and what impact it's had on the harbour.

Posted with full permission from the Hamilton Spectator
 

Cheeke

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Mar 29, 2004
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:inn: I could smell it Thursday night when I got up for work. It almost made me sick!! I couldn't figure out what it was (not a normal smell from around here) :(
 

scotto

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Cheeke said:
:inn: I could smell it Thursday night when I got up for work. It almost made me sick!! I couldn't figure out what it was (not a normal smell from around here) :(
Could it be that bad fish smell coming from the new cormorant population over at pier 27??? :eek:
 

Cheeke

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Mar 29, 2004
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:confused: Whatever I smelled Thursday night wasn't fish. It was a stench that stayed in my nose all day thought i was going to be sick :( :eek:
 

H2O RSQ

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Jul 16, 2004
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#5
"He said the oily algae is a product of the city's waste- water treatment plant as well as combined sewer overflows from heavy rainfall that occasionally overloads the system and forces authorities to discharge it either into the harbour or the basin."

Why can't they build large catch basin for the overloads then pump it back when they can handle it. Insted for of dumping it into the bay witch they are trying to kleen up. It makes senes to me but i have'nt got a masters at mac.


Not only do i not have masters it looks like i can't spell as well :laugh:
 

scotto

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H2O RSQ said:
"He said the oily algae is a product of the city's waste- water treatment plant as well as combined sewer overflows from heavy rainfall that occasionally overloads the system and forces authorities to discharge it either into the harbour or the basin."

Why can't they build large catch basin for the overloads then pump it back when they can handle it. Insted for of dumping it into the bay witch they are trying to kleen up.
To be fair, very large catch basins have been built in Hamilton West near the highway, at the waste water plant and behind Rosedale Arena, those are the ones I know of. I watched the one behind Rosedale being built as we use to sit outside after hockey and have a couple.:DThis catch basin was huge, we must of had a lot of rain lately, too much for it keep up.
 

scotto

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#8
I believe those (I could be wrong) basins were a Sheila Copps project and she is gone now. Just to add, the installation of sewers on the Beach also helped lake water quaility.
 
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