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​A century of municipal collaboration to deliver regional services in Metro Vancouver began with a plan for a regional sewer system. In 1911, after outbreaks of typhoid and beach closures blamed on sewage pollution, the leaders of four communities sought the advice of R.S. Lea, an internationally-respected sanitary engineer in Montreal. Lea proposed a regional system of sewers to protect bathing beaches and the salmon-rich waterways around the Burrard Peninsula, which then had a population of about 182,000. “It is essential that the English Bay foreshore should be preserved from pollution,” Lea wrote in his 1913 report. In March 1914, members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia authorized the incorporation of the Vancouver and Districts Joint Sewerage and Drainage Board. The Board oversaw the financing, construction and operations of new sewers for the City of Vancouver and municipalities of Burnaby, Point Grey and South Vancouver. The Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District was created in 1956, with Vancouver, Burnaby and the University Endowment Lands as its three members. Today, 17 municipalities and one electoral area are members of the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District Board, one of the four legal entities commonly known as Metro Vancouver. “For the most part, sewerage services are out of sight and out of mind,” said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore. “We run our dishwashers and flush our toilets, without considering what happens to the one billion litres of wastewater that go down our sinks and drains in the region each day. It’s a largely unseen and underappreciated regional service, but a very important one. Thanks to the visionary decisions made by community leaders, engineers and city planners during the last century, we now have a comprehensive and cost-effective regional sewerage system throughout the Metro Vancouver region.” Municipal sewer mains and pumping stations collect and deliver wastewater to a regional sewerage and wastewater treatment system. Metro Vancouver operates about 530 kilometres of trunk sewers, 33 sewage pumping stations and five wastewater treatment plants. “The goal of sewerage systems and wastewater treatment is to protect and maintain healthy waterways,” noted Darrell Mussatto, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee. “Instead of outhouses or septic fields, modern cities and urban regions build, maintain and improve liquid waste services which protect fisheries, wildlife habitat, recreation and public health.” Mussatto said that the vast network of sewer mains and mostly-underground infrastructure is an essential service for our residents, businesses and communities.  “Metro Vancouver will continue to upgrade and improve our liquid waste services, to serve the needs of our growing communities and to meet the requirements of new environmental and health regulations,” he said. Check out the history page at     Watch a video slideshow of archive photos and a gallery of photos from history to present day