Sewer System

Updated May 3, 2024

General Information

The Sooke wastewater collection and treatment system is owned and operated by the District of Sooke.

Construction of the Sooke collection system and wastewater treatment plant began in 2004 and the system was commissioned in November 2005. Individual domestic and commercial hook-ups began in January 2006 and continued throughout 2006 and 2007, with the majority completed by December 2006. The system services a core area of approximately 5,500 residents.

The system uses secondary sewage treatment which typically removes over 95% of the total suspended solids and high levels of other contaminants, providing significant environmental benefits to the District of Sooke.

The plant has a design capacity of 3,000 cubic metres per day (annual average daily flow) and a peak wet weather flow capacity of 6,900 cubic metres per day. The plant is designed to accommodate an additional 3,000 cubic metres per day (average daily flow), if required.

The complex development of a wastewater master plan for the District of Sooke is under development and will incorporate the impacts of new provincial legislation. A major component of the masterplan development will include feasibility studies for the following areas:

  • Kaltasin area east of the bridge
  • Town Centre
  • Henlyn Drive Area (east of Erinan)
  • North Otter Point / Burr Road Area
  • Helgesen Road Area

Feasibility studies will include preliminary conceptual designs with associated cost estimates for the collection systems to service the above areas. Throughout this process, staff will continuously seek grant opportunities to offset the cost of these collection systems.

Further components of the Master Plan development will include:

  • Projected Modeling analysis based on maximum build-out community growth areas in alignment with the OCP.
  • Condition assessments of existing collection system infrastructure including the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Capacity analysis of all pump stations within the collection system.
  • Updated 10-15 year capital infrastructure replacement plans.

For information or to answer any questions residents may have pertaining to the sanitary sewer system, please call 250-642-1634.

In case of an emergency or residential sewer backup, please contact the sewer operator at 250-642-1634.

2021 Sewer Capital & Design Budget

$1.1 million has been allocated in 2021 of the five-year financial plan for:

  • Master Plan Staged Development ($100K)
  • Odour Control Mitigation ($80K)
  • Strategic Inflow and Infiltration ($450K)
  • West Coast Road Gravity Main Design ($70K)
  • West Coast Road Force Main Design ($50K)
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant Expansions Design ($250K)

Provincial Announcement: People in Sooke to Benefit from Wastwater Treatment Upgrade

On Monday, July 19, 2021, the province announced $4.6 million in funding for the expansion of the District’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. READ THE RELEASE >>

How much capacity will be added through this expansion?

The plant currently treats approximately 3000 cubic metres per day in dry weather and 6900 cubic metres in wet weather. This expansion will extend that capacity by approximately 50% to more than 4500 cubic metres in dry weather and 10,350 cubic metres wet weather.

When will construction begin? What is the project timeline?

A tentative construction timeline is as follows:

  • Begin design phase September 2021
  • Sizing of major equipment and equipment procurement: year-end 2021
  • Tender in May-June 2022; award July 2022
  • 12-15 months for construction – project completion towards fall/end of 2023.

What areas will this expansion service?

This is being identified through master planning. Additional information will be shared as soon as it is available.

Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is the most efficient and cost-effective method of determining where unwanted water is entering the sewer system and areas of the sewer system that need improvement. The testing can also help identify issues with plumbing in buildings. The smoke is harmless and will disappear after only a few minutes.

Smoke Testing Frequently Asked Questions (& Answers)

What is smoke testing?

Field crews blow air and smoke into the sanitary sewer systems in the street and monitor where smoke escapes. The smoke under pressure will fill the main line as well as any connections and then follow the path of any leak to the ground surface, quickly revealing the source of any problems.

What is the purpose of sanitary sewer smoke testing?

The purpose of smoke testing is to find potential points of inflow and infiltration in the public portion of the sanitary sewer system that could lead to high flows during storms and snowmelt events. Smoke testing can also help locate the following:

  • Buildings that have downspout, cellar, yard or basement drains, and sump pumps
  • Points of groundwater or surface water intrusion into the sewer
  • Any cross-connections between sanitary sewers and storm drains
  • Defective sewer connections that could allow sewer gases into a building
What should I do to prepare for smoke testing?

When you receive notice that smoke testing will take place, you should check to see that all drain traps under basins, washing facilities and floor drains contain water; simply flush toilets and run or pour water into all drains, including unused fixtures and floor drains.

Will smoke testing of the sewers allow smoke to get into my home?

No, provided that your plumbing is installed and functioning properly, and provided “traps” are filled with water. Drains that are used frequently should be okay. If you are not sure, simply run water down the drain for a minute to ensure that the trap is not dry. It is important to locate dry traps as they could allow sewer gases to enter the home. Dry traps are most commonly found in basement floor drains that are used only during rare flood events or in unused fixtures. Please thoroughly check your home.

If smoke enters my home should I be concerned for my heath?

No, Hurco LiquiSmoke in smoke form is completely safe and non-toxic. There are NO harmful chemicals in this product.

Can the smoke set off smoke alarms?
Yes, it can set off smoke alarms in large concentrations. If the smoke is setting off alarms, you likely have a plumbing issue, open the windows and doors and air out the room.
How may the smoke enter my house?

Since plumbing fixtures in your home or business are connected to the sanitary sewer system, there is the potential for the smoke to enter if the drains are not connected properly. This happens particularly under the following circumstances:

  • The vents connected to your building’s sewer pipes are inadequate, defective or improperly installed
  • The traps under sinks, tubs, basins, showers and other drains are dry, defective or improperly installed
  • The pipes, connections or seals in the wastewater drain system in and/or under your building are damaged, defective, have plugs missing or are improperly installed.
What should I do if smoke gets into the house?
  • Do Not Become Alarmed.
  • Open windows to allow ventilation and note the location of the smoke emission; smoke will clear within a few minutes.
  • Exit the building and notify the smoke testing personnel in the area.
What happens if the inspection crews find a faulty sewer or lack of water traps in a home?

If smoke is seen within a house or structure, our crews will attempt to notify the homeowners of these potential defects. Owners will be responsible for repairs to private property plumbing.

Do I have to be home during testing?

No, Inspection crews will not need to enter your home if smoke is present.

How will I know if smoke enters my house if I am not home during testing?

The purpose of the smoke test is to identify sources of unauthorized water entering the public portion of the sewer system. While it is also beneficial to note deficient plumbing connections on private property, this is not the main intent of the smoke test. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain private plumbing connections.

How is a plumbing trap supposed to work?

The “gooseneck” or “snake” section of your drainpipe is the “trap.” The trap allows water to fill that section of the pipe completely. Since vapour and gas cannot travel through water unless under pressure, this effectively “traps” the gas in the sewer portion of the pipe. The vent on your system— the portion of pipe protruding from the roof of the building—prevents the gas from becoming pressurized and allows it to escape outside the structure. These two systems function together to keep sewer gases from entering your structure. If there is no water in the trap, the trap is not functioning properly and can allow smoke to enter your dwelling. We recommend dumping water into building drains and fixtures prior to testing.

Asset Management

In addition to smoke testing, underwater videography is used to monitor this significant infrastructure. Recent reports capture, “the pipe and all related equipment are in good condition.”  The treatment quality was described as “excellent”. The clarity of the water at the outfall provides a tremendous visual of the plant’s functionality and environmental benefits.