“The storm network is in rough shape.” 

That was the message from Director of Operations Bevan Harlton to Moose Jaw City Council on Monday night. 

Moose Jaw’s storm system is served by Moose Jaw Creek and Thunder Creek to the south and Spring Creek in the north with minor and major systems. The minor systems are the underground storm sewer networks such as pipes, manholes and catch basins. The major systems are ditches and culverts. 

Harlton estimated that the total replacement cost would be $210 million for 80 km of storm sewers with some assumptions around culverts and getting that system back to new. 

He said capital work over the last five years was tied into other reactive work and was not looking at the system itself or serving the broader system. 

The city had budgeted $500,000 to $800,000 on storm sewers every year to address lining or repairing storm infrastructure in cast iron watermain locations. 

City council was also presented with a map of what would happen in a one-in-five storm event. There was an array of red dots on the map indicating water coming to the surface. 

Harlton said it isn’t a matter of capacity as much as the conditions, rate of failure and level of service of the storm sewer systems. He said most of the older infrastructure could only handle a one-in-two storm event. 

He added that the deficiencies and faults in the system are to the point where there are locations city crews getting cameras to assess the conditions are abandoned because of the condition of the pipe or the pipe is non-existent. 

“There are locations where we’ve had to cut and drain outfalls to allow water to move just to keep it functioning in any capacity,” Harlton told city council. 

Harlton had hoped that the deterioration would be more prevalent in certain types of storm pipes. However, he said that is not the case. 

This year, city engineering is completing outfall condition assessments in order to find out where repairs need to be made. 

“What we want to try and avoid is reactively going to one or the other and picking the worst or picking the biggest. We want to understand which catchment these things serve and do work in a prioritized way that’s more efficient,” Harlton said. 

A hydraulic assessment of Spring Creek is being completed. Harlton said Spring Creek has the most manmade influences, so the most channelized areas and the most crossings, making it the waterway that needs the most urgent attention. 

Harlton said the biggest obstacle now is that funding “is truly limited” considering other major capital projects like Thunderbird Viaduct and the Crescent View Headworks still need to be completed.  

It’s estimated that a complete rehabilitation of Spring Creek would cost $20 million. 

“That won’t be a request I put forward to council. It is not a fair ask but it is well beyond what we currently are budgeting through public works and engineering on our storm sewer budgets,” Harlton said. 

Mayor Clive Tolley voices his concerns about the shape of the city’s infrastructure in general. 

"We just got a Transportation Master Plan that revealed that we've got poor conditions in our roads, poor conditions in our sidewalks. This report is showing us the poor conditions of our storm sewer infrastructure. So, it's not good news for us across the board in terms of we don't have enough money to do the infrastructure work that needs to be done,” Tolley said. 

Harlton said discussions are taking place on what funding options will be brought forward to city council.