Why Monitor the Red Hill Creek?
In addition to its air quality and landscape concerns caused by its recent intrusive highway, the Red Hill Valley watershed has also faced longstanding issues with its sewer system and outfall pipes.
In December of 2001, the Ministry of Environment's (MOE) Hamilton District Office issued an order requiring the city of Hamilton to analyze the discharge from every outfall of the Red Hill Creek watershed after investigating a series of citizen complaints regarding discharges. These discharges consisted of fecal matter and sanitary debris coming from storm and combined sewer outfall pipes. During periods between major storm events, these outfall pipes should not have been discharging contaminants to local waterways.
The MOE also ordered that the city propose and implement resolutions to any problem discharges identfied. The city failed to do this by the set deadline and additionally failed to request an extension. This resulted in the referral of the case to the MOE's investigation and enforcement branch.
At that time, Environment Hamilton conducted sampling work during drought conditions to determine whether the sewer outfalls were functioning properly. Our sampling confirmed that all of these discharge points except for one had bacterial contamination beyond allowable levels for recreational use of a waterway. Discharges were as high as 160 times above allowable levels for E.coli. We found these levels at a storm sewer outfall bearing no warning sign to the public of this contamination hazard.
Anticipating that these outfalls issues remain a concern, Environment Hamilton has revivied its Pipewatch Program. Our goal is to revisit the concerns raised by neighbouring residents and revisit discharge issues known to exist within the Red Hill Creek. We aim to determine whether the health of the creek has improved since the widespread problems were identified over a decade ago.