American Public Works Association
2013 Public Works Project of the Year
Award category:
Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair
$5 million - $25 million

Blessing in disguise
Project: Uplands Emergency Sewer Repair
Managing agency: Regional Municipality of York; Ontario, Canada
Primary consultant: The Municipal Infrastructure Group
Primary contractor: Memme Construction Co.

After it rained on April 26, 2012, York Region wastewater operators noticed abnormal flow trends at a pumping station that’s the ultimate outfall of a sanitary sewer collector near the Little Don River. The 680-square-mile Regional Municipality of York, also called York Region, is in southern Ontario, Canada, between Lake Simcoe and Toronto.

Environmental Services Department employees were immediately dispatched to look for the cause. They found slope instability and settlements over the sewer alignment at the Uplands Golf and Ski Club west of Yonge Street and south of Highway 407 in the City of Vaughan. A CCTV inspection confirmed the sewer was the problem: Groundwater was flowing into a severe joint displacement upstream of a maintenance hole and directly beneath a river tributary.

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Next year’s award deadline: March 4, 2014

Aquatech Pump and Power was hired to install a sanitary bypass to convey sewage around the problem area. In addition to protecting the environment from any discharges, this allowed the project team to conduct a detailed review of the pipe and joint. They immediately arranged to meet enforcement officers from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority onsite.

Once gathered, the parties could collaborate on developing a cost-effective solution that would ensure the environment was protected. They planned the immediate work required to protect the environment and evaluated the permitting required to repair the damaged section of pipe. After the site was stabilized, the team developed a plan to reconstruct the sewer.

Result: In addition to completing the project on time and under budget, the team identified leaking joints upstream and downstream of the problematic pipe section. Repairing them saved money.

The American Public Works Association presents Public Works Projects of the Year awards annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant, and their cooperative achievements. APWA is a not-for-profit, international organization that serves 28,500 members through education, advocacy, and knowledge exchange. It’s headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and has an office in Washington, D.C., as well as 63 chapters in North America.