Cooperation between all three levels of government has allowed the City of Sarnia, Ontario, to upgrade its wastewater system. Improvements to the wastewater collection system will help reduce sewer overflow into the St. Clair River, and will help protect and restore water quality in both the river and the Great Lakes.

Sarnia’s St. Clair River.

The St. Clair River is a key shipping channel in the Great Lakes seaway and it hosts numerous recreational activities. Wetlands and shallow water in Lake St. Clair and the lower river are essential habitats for numerous species.

Diverting sanitary flow between East Street and Murphy Road has helped reduce basement flooding in the city’s downtown and has led to the rehabilitation of several streets, in addition to the replacement of sewers and water and road infrastructure in the surrounding area.

“For over a generation, Sarnia Councils have tried to find solutions to basement flooding and municipal pollution into the St. Clair River in the south end of the City,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley in a release. “This project, the biggest one in the City’s history, nicknamed ‘The Big Dig,’ has given people peace of mind during large rain storms and mitigated significant pollution into the St. Clair River. The latter will assist in the delisting of the St. Clair River as an area of pollution concern in the next few years.”

Funding for the project was divided between the three levels of government, with Canada contributing $17.5 million through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund; Ontario contributing $5.8 million through the ReNew Ontario program; and the City of Sarnia contributing $11.7 million. The total project cost will be nearly $35 million.

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