Town to devise strategy to replace failure-prone sewage mains in Clifford

Municipal officials here were recently served a reminder that the least expensive route isn’t always the best when it comes to infrastructure projects.

Minto council has agreed  to spend just over $50,000 to replace some sanitary sewer mains that are less than 25 years old as part of a reconstruction project on Ann Street in Clifford.

Town staff are also devising a plan to deal with pipes now considered unsuitable for urban areas throughout the village.

In a report at the Jan. 5 meeting, public works director Brian Hansen explained an environmental assessment was undertaken to provide the Village of Clifford with a solution to its sanitary sewage disposal problem back in 1982.

The assessment was completed and approved in 1992. Until then, the entire village relied on individual septic tanks and tile fields for treatment and disposal.

Three certified main sewer pipes were recommended in a consultant’s report to be acceptable for this project. The contractor Re-Sar chose to use PVC Smooth Wall Rib-Profile Pipe known as “Ultra-Rib pipe” with pea stone bedding throughout the entire village because of the “huge cost savings” at the time, the report explains.

The report states the preferred pipe choice would have been the PVC SDR 35 with Class “B” bedding. The design life of this project in the mid 1990s was estimated to be 50 years at a cost of $2.7 million.

No longer recommended

The report explains that Ultra-Rib pipe is no longer recommended in urban areas because, when a connection is made, installers must core into the wall to connect the laterals, which reduces the pipe’s strength causing it to weaken and eventually collapse.

“In these cases, the design life is considerably less than 50 years, especially when there are multiple connections and the sewer is very deep, which is the situation on many streets in Clifford,” Hansen explained in the report.

“The sewer has only been installed for a little over 20 years, but it may be desirable to replace it and begin a process to remove Ultra-Rib pipe from Clifford where it is practical to do so,” Hansen recommended.

Council approved the recommendation to replace the pipe during the upcoming reconstruction of Ann Street and directed Hansen to develop a strategy to re-line and replace sanitary mains in Clifford over the next few years to alleviate future threats of pipe failure.

“Just so it’s not out there that the whole system is failing, some sections will be fine,” said CAO Bill White.

“But I think we need a long-term strategy that we address it over time.”

Councillor Dave Turton said, “It’s kind of an ugly issue. I mean we’ve got pipes in Palmerston that are over a hundred years old. Sometime you win, sometimes you lose, and it’s really a sad situation.”