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Pierrefonds tackles 133 cases of cross-connected pipes

  • Water flows from a culvert into Riviere-des-Prairies near  Gouin Boulevard and Rive Boisée
    Water flows from a culvert into Riviere-des-Prairies near Gouin Boulevard and Rive Boisée
    Photo credit: ( Phil Carpenter / THE GAZETTE )

While cross-connected sewer pipes continue to be a divisive issue in Kirkland, the same problem, first detected in Pierrefonds-Roxboro in 2010, has been handled quietly through a city of Montreal-run program.

And the Montreal cross-connected pipe program is about to be ramped up in the West Island borough, following the discovery of unacceptable levels of fecal coliform in Rivière-des-Prairies this past summer.

In September, almost 300 times the maximum level of fecal coliform the city’s water authority considers acceptable — 60,000 fecal coliform bacteria per 100 millilitres of water — was found in water samples taken near the Parc de la Rive-Boisée.

The new objective of the detection-program is to repair cross-connected sewer and storm pipes in Pierrefonds-Roxboro at a rate of one household per week, starting in May, said Bassam Chaarani, a borough spokesperson.

Chaarani said to date 133 cases of cross-connected sewer and storm pipes have been detected throughout the borough but only a fraction — 21 cases — have been fixed so far.

The work to repair the remaining problems is now being organized and, he said, once it starts in the spring will continue for seven months, ending in December.

“There is no general rule,” Chaarani said of where the problem has been found so far, the age of the houses or the developer involved. “Since a wrongly-connected pipe or sewer is the result of a human error,” he added, “it can happen anytime or anywhere.”

Workers have been using a new process known as smoke tracing to detect the problem. The method does not require an appointment with the homeowner.

Smoke is injected in city pipes and if smoke is seen coming out of an individual home’s plumbing vent, the pipes are connected properly. If no smoke is seen, Chaarani said, the city of Montreal contacts the homeowner.

If the house’s main connection to the sewer system is reversed and the repair is done on public property, he said, the work is carried out by brough employees at no cost to the homeowner.

If the work that needs to be done is inside the house or on private property, Chaarani said, the city of Montreal has a program to reimburse owners for the work done by the plumber of their choice.

The homeowner is only required to pay for the work, he said, if the problem stems from a wrongly-connected pipe following the construction of a washroom or laundry room in the basement of the home.

The program appears to be in stark contrast to the protracted and divisive way Kirkland has handled its problem with cross-connected pipes.

In Kirkland, Dec. 15 is the latest deadline hold-out homeowners have been given to sign a compensation agreement for repairing crossed sewer pipes. About 200 homes have been found to have cross-connected pipes.

A previous deadline gave homeowners until December to carry out all the necessary repairs and related works and to send in their bills for compensation of up to $5,000.

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: cornacchiaGAZ

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