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2015 CSO Master Plan Symposium

Event details

We invite you to attend the City of Winnipeg's first Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan Symposium.

Join us to learn more about Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and to share your views on managing the effects of CSOs in an environmentally sound, sustainable and cost-effective manner.

An Opportunity to Contribute to our CSO Master Plan

You will have an opportunity to hear various perspectives on managing the effects of CSOs from an expert speaker panel. There will also be small group breakout sessions so you can share your thoughts.

Moderator: CJOB’s Richard Cloutier


  • Nancy Schultz, CSO project consultant and expert
  • Hank Venema, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Colleen Sklar, Lake Friendly, Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region
  • Carmine Militano, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Please join other business leaders, non-governmental organizations, government officials and the public for this important discussion.  Together we can create a cost-effective strategy that will protect our rivers and lakes for generations to come.

2015 Symposium - Managing the Effects of Combined Sewer Overflows

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Registration at 5:00pm,
Event 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Millennium Library – Carol Shields Auditorium (2nd floor)
251 Donald St


  • Event welcome
  • Introduction to CSOs
  • The impact on our water systems
  • Regulatory costs & benefits
  • Options & opportunities for change
  • Small group breakout discussions

This event kicks off a multi-year public engagement process that will:

  • help ensure that key choices and decisions made about CSOs meet all provincial licence requirements, and
  • create measureable improvements in the long-term health of our rivers and lakes that Winnipeggers can afford.

If you cannot make it to the meeting, we encourage you to participate online.

CSO Symposium Panel Member Bios

Nancy U. Schultz
Senior technical consultant for Winnipeg Overflow Master Plan, CH2M Hill 

Ms. Schultz is a registered professional engineer and a diplomate of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers.  She has worked and published for over 40 years in topics related to sewer system management and overflow control.  She has evaluated and planned combined sewer overflow controls from New Zealand to Edmonton, though most extensively within the US. Ms. Schultz is the senior technical consultant with CH2M HILL for the preparation of the Winnipeg Overflow Master Plan.

Henry David (Hank) Venema
International Institute of Urban Development (IISD)

Dr. Henry David (Hank) Venema is a professional engineer with a diverse natural resource background spanning water resources, agriculture, energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation, rural development, ecosystem management, environmental economics and environmental finance. Dr. Venema led IISD’s pioneering research in the application of natural capital principles to water management challenges in Western Canada. In 2009, he led the creation of IISD’s Water Innovation Centre with an initial mandate to build a strategic vision for Lake Winnipeg Basin management based on leading-edge policy, management and technological concepts. Dr. Venema has collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Water Systems Project, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other international initiatives. In Canada, he has worked with the federal departments of Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and within Manitoba, for the provincial departments of Water Stewardship and Conservation.

Carmine Militano
Bockstael Construction, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Transportation Leadership Council

Carmine Militano brings a “360 degree view to the industry” with more than 34 years experience across the entire design-construct life cycle, including consulting engineering, construction and manufacturing. Carmine has held leadership positions with some of North America’s largest consulting firms, including CH2M Hill and Stantec, and was a partner with one of Western Canada’s largest concrete products manufacturing firms. Today he is the Senior VP of Business Development and Innovation with Bockstael Construction and is an acknowledged specialist and guest lecturer in the practice of project management, strategic business planning and facilitation. Carmine also sites on the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Transportation Leadership Council.

Colleen Sklar
Lake Friendly, Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region

Colleen acts as the Executive Director of the Lake Friendly Initiative - an environmental action plan and community engagement strategy aimed at protecting and preserving Manitoba’s freshwater resources. Her work focuses on collective action on watershed issues including public education and engagement via H20 IQ and Aquavist campaigns. Colleen also acts in the capacity of Director for the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region, a collaborative body that unites decision-makers in 17 Capital Region municipalities around a long-term vision and facilitates coordinated planning and action on economic prosperity and good jobs, environmental stewardship and water protection, smart growth and an exceptional quality of life for all.


September 9, 2015

What stood out to you from the Panel presentation and discussion?

This is what we heard at the Symposium. Please feel free to add your comments below.

  • Absence of comprehensive watershed management plan for the City of Winnipeg (bigger picture thinking is missing!)
  • How do we recognize water quality as a priority within the larger economic landscape
  • Economic investment as transformational
  • Lack of regulations (federal/provincial level)
  • Transformation from open sewers to recreational rivers
  • Ratio of nutrient reduction into Lake Winnipeg vs. financial impact
  • What's the objective if water quality achievement is not feasible? Basement flooding?
  • Surprised by total length of combined sewer (1000 kms -> cost a lot to change)
  • Need to fix infrastructure as it ages
  • Lack of green initiatives in MB
    • Are we shying away from it?
    • Cost
  • Need to consider lifecycle analysis
  • Surprised by how small an impact it is <1%
  • Need to think of long-term – structural deficit
  • Where? End of pipe or source?
    • Reduce runoff
    • Work within system we have
  • Low impact development
    • Put water back in the ground where it falls (permeable paving)
  • Flooding is human-made problem
  • Store water
  • Cost benefit analysis, engage politicians, legislation, water budget, etc.
  • No clear/obvious right answer
  • Different answers depending on location
  • Solution needs to be non point source
  • CSO impacts on recreational/water quality are extensive when it happens
  • CSO not the large contributor to phosphorus
  • CSOs does not = phosphorus (or other nutrient) issues
  • Very important issue – green infrastructure possibilities need to be considered
  • Impact on aboriginal population
    • g. are dollars better spent on CSOs or other significant community based initiatives i.e. Roseau, Brokenhead
  • The 1% factor to be addressed by significant dollars –> why?
  • Why talk phosphorus? And not E.Coli?
  • In "22 events" what is composition of liquids and solids
    • how much waste water goes into
  • Factor in the lifestyle changes that are necessary even though people will have to "adjust ways"
  • Good video, do more
  • What's the objective water quality or regulation
  • Water quality (P), spending money on CSO is poor investment
  • Needs to be a discussion City <-> Province what/which problem are we trying to solve. That discussion hasn't happened.
  • There appears to be no communication plan
  • Opportunity cost of "solving" CSO issue
  • Look at CSOs in broader context
  • People concerned about water quality
  • Water quality over CSO amounts
  • Look at multiple benefits for any option -> bang for $
  • Learn from best practices/lessons learned in other jurisdictions
  • Look at economic development opportunities
  • Where does the money come from/cost
  • Less than 1% – who has the biggest impact?
    • How do we do this as part of a normal infrastructure projects as opposed to one off mega-projects
  • Take a long term approach = more affordable
  • Need multi-party approach -> water shed approach -> many sources
  • Educate Winnipeg and surroundings on what impacts we have on rivers & lakes
  • Stop looking @ 90s – stop talking about the 1%, but rather set targets to concrete goals
  • Do you want to spend $ elsewhere + not fix CSO?
  • Magnitude of $ that is needed ->where is the best place to spend
  • Is the objective to improve what quality or
  • What is the GOAL?
  • Focus on the task – make a choice + lets go
  • 10% reduction is pretty good
  • Stop dumping – embarrassment
  • Talked about phosphorus along, only 1 aspect. What about the other chemicals, factors?
  • Issue of economic benefit is a factor worth considering
  • Spending all the $ won't improve water quality
  • Vs load (phosphorus is huge)
  • Are we reducing CSOs or water quality
  • of CSOs is useless – can be 1 hr, 1 day, 1 week -> quantity overflow
  • 22 overflows x 79? They don't all discharge @ the same time.
  • $ invested into surface water mgmt. maybe worthwhile
  • Greenspace/bioretention important for new dev.
  • Hank: converting section in retention areas could store stormwater/economic spin-offs
  • What is the actual estimated cost?
  • Where does that money come from?
  • Idea of protecting environment and waterways
  • Watershed approach will just reducing CSOs fix the problem
  • "1%"
  • How to effectively spend $$
    • Don't think it's the right direction for spending $$
  • Water quality trading
    • What role can MB play beyond Winnipeg
  • What's the question
    • If water quality or CSOs
    • Still doing it same way
  • Other cities used innovate approaches to existing/adapting infrastructure
  • More consciousness of environment
  • More extreme flooding
  • Regulatory issue
  • River users + raw sewage in CSO events -> "perception issue"
  • Public perception is different than reality of the impact
  • Incentive for individuals, and other "front of pipe" and what impact can be achieved instead?

September 9, 2015

What is important for the City to consider as it creates a plan to manage the effects of combined sewer overflows?

This is what we heard at the Symposium. Please feel free to add your comments below.

(a) What issues, opportunities or considerations do you see that should be addressed?

  • Consider other measures beyond phosphorus
  • Financial impact on taxpayers
  • Existing by-laws and building codes should be re-examined. e.g. holding tank for stormwater runoff for 'asphalt deserts'
  • Considerations for drains that don't go anywhere
  • Re-designing roads to slow the stormwater
  • Cost, who pays?
  • What is the goal
    • Basement flooding
    • Phosphorus reduction
  • Public engagement
  • Who sets goals?
    • Are we representative?
    • What are the interests/concerns of the public?
  • More info about combining solutions e.g. H.Venema – Nutrient removal
  • Diverting waste
  • What is bigger impact: N End treatment plant or CSO?
  • What is the GOAL?
  • Low hanging fruit
  • Use landscape architecture
  • Population density
  • Efficient/effective
  • Series of smaller solutions/interventions leading to bigger approach
  • Personal + business incentives as part of solution
  • Share more of the data and create awareness of issues + solutions
  • What are the city by-laws related to green roofs and other potential design strategies
  • What is cost factor of treatment centres? What is the 1% factor (phosphorus) worth in terms of cost?
  • Stage construction e.g. roads needs replace, do sewers, PLAN
  • Water quality vs. CSO reduction -> what's the focus
  • Cottage country – beach, loss revenue
  • Role of city planning – new development, infrastructure, infill
  • We should do something
  • It's the right thing to do
  • Do we replace infrastructure only when it fails
  • Incorporating green infrastructure
  • Water trading – part of the solution
  • Alternative solutions to handle/store overland flooding, overland is P-rich
  • Consider "front of pipe" solutions -> demand side
  • We have to address existing CS systems
  • How do we measure the impacts/benefits
  • Look at similar size cities & climates for ideas
  • Know what the capacities are & where
  • How do we get the most impact with the limited $
  • Start small & make targeted impacts
  • Make a meaningful/measurable difference!
  • Obstacles that hinder/prevent innovators from creating solutions. Departmental red tape to get projects off the ground (run around)
  • Need to think differently
  • Dissemination of info
  • Issue -> $/revenue
    • 80/20 rule, huge investment for nominal result
    • Stringent licence
  • Considerations
    • Province should step up
    • Are you really approve water quality
    • Risk implications
    • Protecting existing infrastructure
    • Solutions are based on region/area
  • Opportunities
    • Innovation
    • Economic spin-offs
    • Job creation
    • Innovative solutions?
    • Sewer renewal
    • Educating public on reality of CSO impact on our rivers
  • Green infrastructure is huge
  • Take water where it lands and deal with it
  • What are lifecycle costs on investment?
  • New land management planning
    • New criteria
    • Uses of land
  • Where are conditions the worst (e.g. events even when it's not really wet weather)
  • Wet weather flows – how can you manage the storm water (better)?
    • How much store water runoff at each site
  • System
  • Pay a tax for land drainage
    • Economic incentives
    • "Stormwater fees"
    • In other cities making people aware of individual role to play
  • CSOs if eliminate stormwater flow, more sewage capacity for density
  • Capacity of current treatment plants
  • Where does Winnipeg fit into bigger watershed in terms of impact?
  • Land ownership – where is this in the equation

(b) How would you assess or evaluate river quality?

  • More data collection, more tech
  • See floatables
  • Concentrations of pollutant parameters: TP, BOD
  • Riparian zones, shoreline health, re-established buffer zones – have supporting by-laws
  • Ongoing monitoring
    • What are you testing?
    • How often?
    • Before and after flood/snow
  • Recreational usage
  • Species diversity (long term)
  • Habitat
  • Coli
  • Solution: cap overflows, divert, store
  • Consider: debris, fecal matter, Ph, aesthetics
  • Micro-portable waste water treatment plants (MBR)
  • Treat it before it hits the river
    • Consider cost and use and age of infrastructure (79 sites!)
  • Sampling, monitoring
  • Chemicals, nutrients, aesthetics, appearance, aromas, fish suitability
  • Need to know more about the science aspects in terms of river quality
  • What are the details around how the St.John's, Scotia St places work and all land drainage spots "the 76"
  • The survey percentages of river activity use
  • Inform + educate = create better knowledge
  • Some importance to factor in what other jurisdictions are doing: learn from others
  • Swimmable, fishable, in water sports
    • Is it achievable, clay + silts
    • Winnipeg 'muddy waters'
  • What the "measureable" pollutants?
    • Pharma, ecoli, etc.
  • Reduce odour from rec activities
  • Return river to rec quality
  • Small scale & measurable impact
  • Perception or reality
  • Floatables
  • Testing water/parameters at the CSO sites
  • Test up and down stream
  • Sensitivity of testing
  • Land drainage quality – testing?
  • Bigger picture vs. fixing the 1%
  • Development, managing runoff
  • Landscaping within certain districts – duty to make it better
  • Excellent water quality, but wouldn't swim in it
  • Water treatment plant upgrades will show improvement in water quality
  • Number of nutrients in water
  • Shouldn't evaluate it based on colour
  • Look at indicator organisms
  • If you can keep it out of treatment plant
    • Source control
    • Decentralized treatment
  • Surface drainage will take more than a pipe "flow slipping"
  • Low impact development – how does this work in downtown Winnipeg where its already developed?
  • Complications from winter – sand, gravel, etc.
  • Spring runoff
    • Top level of parkades -> park (manage drainage)
    • Green buildings/roofs
    • In sewers too
  • Green alleys in Chicago

September 9, 2015

As planning continues what information might be important for public and stakeholders to know or hear about?

This is what we heard at the Symposium. Please feel free to add your comments below.

  • Clearly identify the objective
  • What other precedents from other cities
  • Prove that they've explored and exhausted all options, that what they are doing is the answer
  • Maximize on existing WTP
  • Let's know about what you can do as an individual, what everyone can do about it. e.g. front of pipe
  • Think outside the box, change thinking from 50s
  • BIG picture plan from infrastructure to multi-point solutions
  • We want to know about low flow toilets, water reduction, greywater system
  • Pilot projects of best practices – educate people about results
  • Reference your proposed solutions e.g. this solution "A" works in Minneapolis
  • Numbers
    • Ph, flow, E.Coli, pharmaceuticals, impact with no action
  • Many options -> present a variety, and how they would work with planning dept.
  • Cost, who pays?
  • Benefits of CS? Supporting surface water management through treatment facility
  • Benefits to removing/retrofitting CS
  • How does this impact new development?
  • How does this change planning?
  • More info to public will make it easier later to implement
  • Precedents from similar cities
    • Size, demographics, geography, geology
  • Cash cost
    • How much do we spend?
    • What is the cost benefit
    • Overall bang for buck
  • Justifying sewer pipes vs. hospitals
  • Spending on treatment plants? Prevents algae blooms, reduce basement flooding
  • Championing the goals -> focus on what do we get for what we are spending
  • Education + awareness, the hidden unknowns
  • Help people know the "provincial legislation and criteria/requirements" "The Letter" What other alternatives are there? Upstream control vs. the city.
  • Get a better handle on the issue
  • Create better communication: another stage of videos to build off the first one -> general public will learn it better
  • Better collaboration between city/province so the public can feel that an effective and coordinated approach is happening on the subject
  • Facts
  • Costs
  • Disclosure vs. selling the solution
  • Educate the public
  • Options vs. values
  • Is this where we want to spend our money
  • Money to go water quality vs. CSO reduction
  • Are we going to cleaner water, cleaner L.Wpg. or CSO reduction
  • Water trading solutions
  • Green technologies – could we benefit water quality more cost effectively
  • Could Seine River be used as a pilot
  • Water quality
    • Nutrients P,N
    • Aesthetics
    • Coliform
  • Is there room for multiple solutions, beyond CSO and beyond city boundaries
  • Public should know what the results of their activities on water quality, and what they can do to help
  • The 1% # – is it going to help water quality
  • Why should they are about the "1%"
  • Where does this fit with climate change, impacts of more rainfall events
  • How do we define water quality as a community?
  • What are we willing to pay to get this water quality
  • Role of consultant in CSO MP process, versus implementation
  • Construction impacts
  • Letting people know this is happening! Important!
  • Systems built for human health, framing it in a way that people understand it
  • People aren't aware of green infrastructure potential solutions, how effective they are or are not
  • Some development hasn't changed its ways
  • Current rules + practices of [development] haven't been enforced
  • Public needs to be more aware of how developers must operate
  • What are the cost of the infrastructure options? Cost of other control option "current" info – is there a new # figure is 13 years old – 2002
  • What are city's controls factors, city can't do it alone! Needs province.
  • Volume of run off in a big #
  • When will the Master plan be complete?
  • Include the options in the plan for awareness, options +/- forces people to think about it
  • Fargo option – not practical for Manitoba due to agriculture sacrifice – what are the cost implications of this option
  • Could we store what where we convey it?
  • Not likely because you'd compromise
  • Everybody needs to understand that improving CSOs will have minimal impact to the environment + water quality
  • Make a plan to reduce overflows
  • People to be educated on actual pollutant level of river
  • Bottom line: Province will review the final report + we will have to deal with their decision.
  • Government does not tend to invest in improvements that cannot be seen
  • CSOs and bacteria and "BOD" – where do these fit in?
  • "Floatables" – condoms, poop, syringes
  • Fact vs. fiction
  • How are they collecting the data? (monitoring)
    • Make it available to public
  • Video was clear on what CSOs are -> but now: what is the effect on water
    • Does it affect our drinking water? (Not just in Winnipeg, but downstream)
  • Clear on cost and effectiveness
  • What is the real benefit to basement flooding (now + later) – what change for investment?
  • Budget process – with structural deficit, need transparent process
  • Public education on human health impacts
    • Safety precautions
    • Awareness when events are happening (so rec users can make informed decisions)
    • Same goes for treatment plant discharges
  • Incentive e.g. in Seine River area


Last updated: June 24, 2019

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