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B.C. flooding triggers widespread sewer overflows, power outages

Sewage has bubbled to the surface across at least 19 Metro Vancouver locations, and in Merritt, the entire wastewater facility was swamped as rising floodwaters overwhelmed the town; meanwhile, power outages have hit thousands across B.C.
Sewage overflow Coquitlam-Burnaby
Sewage litters the road at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and North Road at the Coquitlam-Burnaby border. Flooding has forced to bubbling sewage to spew onto Metro Vancouver roads in at least 19 locations as of Monday, Nov. 15.

Thousands of British Columbians continue to deal with the fallout from rising floodwaters as powerful winds lashed the south coast Monday. 

While several communities, including parts of Abbotsford, Princeton and the entire town of Merritt, have been evicted, localized effects have cascaded across the region's electric and wastewater systems as well. 

Over 5,000 people had their power knocked out in Hope overnight, and roughly 7,000 in Langley remained without electricity early Monday afternoon. 

On Metro Vancouver's North Shore, nearly 3,000 people are still in the dark after the power went out near the community of Deep Cove. 

B.C. Hydro says major outages have been reported across Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Boston Bar and the town of Spuzzum. At the same time, in the Interior, Golden and several other communities were left without electricity after heavy, wet snow knocked trees onto power lines.

Flood alerts have been issued for residents downstream of three major hydroelectric dams. The electric utility says it's closely monitoring water levels at the Coquitlam, Wahleach (near Hope) and Alouette (near Maple Ridge) reservoirs.

BC Hydro said it might also issue alerts on the Cheakamus River near Squamish and for the community of Pitt Meadows downstream from the Stave Lake reservoir.

Winds across B.C.'s South Coast are expected to gust up to 90 kilometres per hour into the evening, Nov. 15, and Environment Canada warns that could lead to more power outages. 


Roughly 7,000 residents of the City of Merritt were evacuated Monday morning after rising floodwaters knocked out the town's wastewater facility.

But even in the Lower Mainland, where flooding has been less widespread outside of Abbotsford, Metro Vancouver reported sewers overflowing in 19 separate locations. 

One resident told Glacier Media he found soiled toilet paper and sanitary products strewn across the road after a manhole blew its lid at the Burnaby-Coquitlam border. 

"There is no attempt being made to collect this sewage," wrote local stream keeper George Kovacic in an email. "The sewage is flowing into storm drains and polluting Stoney Creek as well as the creek's spawning salmon, endangered Nooksack dace and other wildlife."

As of 1:40 p.m. Monday, Metro Vancouver was also reporting bubbling sewage at five locations on the North Shore, one in Richmond, one in New Westminster and 11 individual sites south of the Fraser River.

Human-caused global heating is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of seasonal rainfall across much of British Columbia. While that's expected to put increased pressure on various infrastructures, wastewater systems are particularly susceptible. 

Metro Vancouver is working on upgrading several of its major wastewater facilities over the coming years at the cost of billions of dollars. At the same time, some cities are rolling out green infrastructure networks to flatten flood curves and filter runoff before it flows into nearby streams.