Winnipeg, MB – City of Winnipeg crews and contractors are still hard at work trying to resolve a sewage spill into the Red River at the Fort Garry Bridge.

At the end of November 2023, during a routine inspection, workers found a leak in one of two pipes that run under the river near the Fort Garry Bridge – a 700 mm pipe. The pipes, built in 1970, direct sewage from the southwest part of Winnipeg to the South End Sewage Treatment Plant.

As of February 20, 2024, more than 220 million litres of sewage has spilled into the Red River.

The leaky pipe was immediately taken out of service. The remaining pipe, an 800 mm pipe, was found to be in poor condition, but could still handle the flow across the river. Planning for a bypass system began at that time. The bypass system, made up of temporary new pipes, would allow us to continue directing sewage to the treatment plant. We could then take the existing pipes out of service, until the pipes could be permanently replaced.

On February 5, 2024, work began on building the bypass system across the Fort Garry Bridge to restore sewage collection capacity. Two days after the bypass work started, on February 7, 2024, the 800 mm pipe failed. Due to this second failure, the work to assemble the bypass system over the bridge was accelerated. Provincial and federal agencies were notified of this environmental issue.

“Our crews and contractors have been working tirelessly to address the leak, and get a more stable bypass system in place,” said Tim Shanks, Director of the Water and Waste Department. “Under normal circumstances, the work involved in building a bypass system of this type is very challenging and would take upwards of five weeks. But we’ve been considerably expediting efforts to stop the leak.”

The situation is made much more complicated because crews would normally be able to run equipment through a barrage of tests both off-site and on-site, before going into operation.

“Our crews have had to make constant adjustments in real time, and it’s incredibly delicate work,” said Shanks.

The bypass system at the Fort Garry Bridge has been running since February 17, but the bypass is not fully complete yet. Two pumps are needed to handle all of the flow in the sewer; however, one of the pumps is undergoing tests off-site to resolve mechanical issues discovered last week.

With one of two bypass pumps now running, the amount of sewage spilled into the river has gone down considerably. While this single pump is running reliably, we need two pumps to handle the sewer capacity.

The flow in the sewer varies during the day, and during peak flow times, the single bypass pump does not always keep up. When this happens, the excess flow in the sewer is spilled into the river.

It’s anticipated that the second pump will be operational by the end of the week.

In the meantime, and until repairs are completed, the City is asking residents and businesses in the areas of St. Norbert, Fort Richmond, Richmond West, Waverley West, Bridgwater, Linden Woods, Linden Ridge, Whyte Ridge, Waverley Heights and the University of Manitoba to take the following steps to reduce water use:

  • Use cottage rules for flushing (only flush the toilet when necessary)
  • Enjoy shorter showers and avoid bathtub use
  • Run only full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Delay washing cars
  • Turn off the water when you shave or brush your teeth

“By taking these steps, it will help reduce the amount of sewage that flows into the river while repairs are ongoing,” said Shanks. “There is no risk of drinking water contamination due to this sewer issue, and our community can continue to rely on safe drinking water.”


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!