The City of Toronto is playing catch-up ball on water-related infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.
Under its 10-year, $11-billion capital plan, the city’s entire water and sewer Infrastructure State of Good Repair backlog could theoretically be erased between 2015 and 2024.
Much of the spending will involve the infrastructure required to move water and sewage around the city and subsequent
wastewater treatment. The capital spending list includes $3.2 billion for sewer and watermain replacement and rehabilitation, $2.7 billion for wastewater treatment plant upgrades, $1.5 billion for basement flooding protection, and $1.1 billion for a wet weather
flow master plan.
The single biggest ticket site is the flagship Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, which will see $1.7 to $1.9 billion in upgrades by 2024.
One of the largest projects will involve decommissioning of the plant’s older M & T pumping stations, currently nestled in parkland, and a move south to the main plant, with project costs estimated at $320 million.
"Parts of the plant are untouched since it was built in 1919," says Frank Quarisa, director of wastewater treatment for Toronto Water.
"Three years ago we had to decide if we were going to continue to bolt new components onto the old technology at the M & T pumping
stations. We decided that it was a well-functioning relic and that we needed to replace much of that infrastructure."
Other large upcoming projects at the plant include construction of a new three-kilometre effluent outfall tunnel under Lake Ontario
bedrock at an estimated $350 million, and design and construction of a new effluent disinfection system at more than $200 million.
Elsewhere, a major rehabilitation project at the city’s Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant is estimated at $250 million and will tender next year. Refurbishing the treatment train at the Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant will come in at $110 million.
The 2015 construction portfolio includes 146 kilometres of sewer and watermain work valued at more than $230 million. Jaye Robinson,
chair of the city’s public works and infrastructure committee, notes that this portfolio isn’t exactly made up of mega-projects — it’s a
list of smaller jobs whose time has come.
Sure there’s the rehabilitation of three kilometres of the Chapman Sanitary Trunk Sewer running through the Humber Ravine.
Then there’s the rehabilitation and repair of a two-kilometre section of the Lake Shore Sanitary Trunk Sewer to the Mimico Pumping Station and about a kilometre of cast iron watermain replacement in the same area.
"The majority of the work addresses the concerns of residents who are frustrated about infrastructure that’s reaching the end of its lifespan," says Robinson.
"One of the focuses will be addressing the problem of basement flooding as part of the city’s multi-year Basement Flooding Protection Program."
Robinson says that significant progress has been made on addressing basement flooding in the city’s 34 most problematic areas as attention now turns to areas that include the older Lawrence Park neighbourhood.
"In Lawrence Park, stormwater was traditionally conveyed by ditches," she says. "Over the years those ditches have been filled in and turned into large front yards and the stormwater has no place to go."
Potential alternatives in Lawrence Park could include construction of sidewalks with storm drains, sanitary sewer upgrades or the creation of underground stormwater storage facilities.
Robinson notes that most of the city’s sewer and water projects are being placed in a temporary deep freeze during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
"The moratorium is about putting our best city face forward for tourists and visitors and ensuring there’s reliable transportation along key game traffic routes," she says.
"We’ve really been accelerating many of the projects with contractors working overtime and into the night and they’ve been demonstrating their skill and scope during this period."