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Contrary to what most people believe, our wastewater does not contain exotic chemicals, metals, or highly toxic substances. Our wastewater is composed primarily of natural organic substances, which are byproducts of human, animal, and plant processes.
The primary elements in our wastewater include nitrogen, phosphorous, ammonia, and carbon. Camrose Creek naturally contains all of these substances. However, the large quantities present in the wastewater could be harmful if they were not removed. The Camrose wastewater treatment facility removes about 90% of these compounds before the water is released to the environment.
Most of the water used in a home ends up in the sanitary sewer system.
Another major source of wastewater comes from the weeping tiles in some homes. Weeping tiles are pipes surrounding the foundation of buildings that absorb any excess moisture near the foundation to protect it from water damage. Weeping tiles in houses built in Camrose between 1970 and 1994 discharge foundation water into the sanitary sewer system.
Unfortunately, improper grading can result in large amounts of surface water entering the sanitary sewer during rainstorms. During major storms, these large flows can overload a sanitary system, causing sewage backup and widespread basement flooding.
To control this flooding and put the responsibility for lot grading back on homeowners, City Council passed a bylaw in 1994 which prohibited the connection of weeping tiles to the sanitary sewer. This change should significantly reduce the amount of water in the sanitary sewer system in new areas, especially during major storms.
In general, anything that could harm the sewer, animals, vegetation or humans is not permitted in the sewer system. These include but are not limited to:
Note: Copies of all bylaws are available at City Hall located at:5204-50 Ave.Camrose, AB T4V 0S8
Some industries have wastewater with high levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, or grease. While not prohibited, these high levels cause increased maintenance and operational costs to treat the sewage. If the strength of the wastewater is above the levels specified in the bylaws, the City can either levy extra charges for the treatment or require the industry to pre-treat its waste.
Removing the nutrients in the wastewater is crucial in limiting environmental damage to Camrose Creek. In addition to removing the organic substances in the water, the process also removes solid debris such as rocks, clay, sticks, cans, and rags.
The City's treatment system does not have a magic process which can remove any and all pollutants. This is why we need the Sewer Bylaw and the cooperation of our citizens and industries. Limited amounts of heavy metals and other chemicals are removed by a settling process and are retained by the sludge which forms at the bottom of the storage lagoon, but the system cannot handle large amounts of these types of substances.