Sewer system strained with ground water

Over capacity of water in the system as residents attempt to scramble to contain flooding in homes across Cranbrook.

  • Mar. 22, 2017 4:00 p.m.

Barry Coulter and Trevor Crawley

The word of the week is water.

Following a winter with record amounts of snow, the amount of ground water is proving equally historic, to the bane of many homeowners.

Late last week, the City of Cranbrook reported a large volume of calls concerning flooding basements, due to drastically warmer temperatures, fast snow melt and periods of rainfall.

There were some issues with the city’s sewer system over the weekend, with water backing up into some basements in the St. Mary’s school neighbourhood on Saturday night.

The city blamed an over capacity of water in the system, as residents attempt to scramble to contain flooding in homes across Cranbrook.

Tony Hetu, Public Works Manager for the City of Cranbrook, said the issue was due to a lot of the rainwater and snow melting, and a lot of the storm water was going into the city’s sanitary sewer lines, instead of the storm water system designed for ground water.

“You can imagine, you have two- or three-hundred pumps running in the city, in the sanitary system that’s not designed for storm water, it just multiplies,” Hetu told the Townsman Monday.

If anyone is experiencing water issues in their homes, the city is asking residents who are pumping water out to allow it to flow outside and not directly into the sewer system.

“There seems to be a higher than normal amount of ground water,” Hetu said. “The storm water system is designed to receive ground water. Try to minimize what you’re putting into the sanitary system.”

Like City efforts during the historic snowfalls of this winter, it was all hands on deck for City crews.

“There’s been an abundance of overtime around here, to say the least,” Hetu said. “But it definitely looks better. We’re checking it two, three times a day. We’ve got some pumps on standby we can have set up fairly quickly, so we can move water further down, and we’re getting ahead of it through monitoring.”

Dennis Hockley, owner of Bravo Restoration Services in Cranbrook, says his company is the busiest it’s been since opening up six years ago.

When we had the last snow fall and a little bit of warm weather, we were extremely busy,” Hockley said, “and then again, this morning — we got rain last night and the warm weather, lots of basements are getting flooded.”

Hockley says water comes around the side of the house and raises the water table and even houses with weeping tile, which is supposed to waterproof the exterior of a foundation, are getting water inside.

Basements are usually hit the hardest, however, some water can also get into houses from ice buildup underneath roof tiles and getting into attics, Hockley added.

In addition to the sewer issues, power was knocked out to roughly 2,000 homes on Saturday evening after a tree fell on wires, according to a BC Hydro update.

The power outage affected homes south of Industrial A Rd, east of Cobham Ave, north of 5th St., west of College Way, but was fully restored 12 hours later.