An aging Coquitlam sewage main will move to the top of a replacement list after a leak spilled an unknown amount of raw sewage into nearby Scott Creek on the weekend.
The leak was first detected Saturday night by city crews who were performing routine inspections on the pipe in the 1100 block of Lansdowne Drive.
At one point, a dozen vacuum trucks were on scene to help clean up the spill.
By Monday, city officials still hadn't determined the exact cause of the leak or how much of the sewage - or grey water as it's also called - had leaked out from the 14-inch sewer force main into the nearby creek.
However, Mayor Richard Stewart noted the vast majority of the sewage had been contained.
"We don't want any sewage to get into the creek," he said, adding there was no smell from the spill and much of the liquid was bathtub and dishwasher water.
The 35-year-old main itself reportedly handles one million litres a day.
The main had been on a list to be replaced prior to the leak and will now be fast-tracked.
It's expected the one-kilometre main will be replaced in the next couple of weeks, but Stewart isn't sure how much it would cost.
He suggested given the location near the railroad tracks and a creek, it would be more expensive than a typical replacement.
"It's not going to be a question of costs, but how quickly we can do it," he said.
The mayor also sees the incident as an example of the aging infrastructure problems facing municipalities across the country.
He's calling on senior levels of government to step up and develop a national strategy and co-ordinated plan to deal with the replacement of infrastructure.
Stewart suggested billions of dollars are needed in Metro Vancouver alone to address the issue.
"We have to make sure that people feel our infrastructure is reliable, and that is going to require investment," he said, adding the city has hundreds of pipes in need of replacement.
However, the mayor also contends Coquitlam is in better shape than most cities because of all the new construction from the Evergreen Line, which he said allows for the old infrastructure to be replaced at the same time.
Fred Soofi, the owner of Pasta Polo Restaurant, which is located a short distance from the origin of the leak, said this is the second time a similar leak has occurred.
He said the most recent failure appeared much bigger, also noting the bathrooms at his restaurant were backed up on Sunday.
Though he agrees with the mayor the main was old, he questions why the city didn't plan ahead and have the pipe replaced sooner.
"I don't know why they did not take care of it in the first place," he said.
The city also noted it was working with the Ministry of Environment to handle the incident.
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