Another perspective on Dawson’s wastewater treatment option

Another perspective on Dawson's wastewater treatment option I'd like to take the opportunity to address some of the errors in the April 24th article concerning a proposed technology for Dawson City's wastewater treatment facility. It is not my intentio

I’d like to take the opportunity to address some of the errors in the April 24th article concerning a proposed technology for Dawson City’s wastewater treatment facility.

It is not my intention to advocate for any particular wastewater treatment process or technology, but it is my responsibility to ensure your readers are not left with the mistaken impression that the citizens of Dawson will be presented with an unsuitable or inappropriate solution to their wastewater needs.

Given the high cost of wastewater treatment, a detailed technical analysis of each bid package received for this project was undertaken by a team of experts in engineering, financial analysis and wastewater treatment.

Team members, individually and collectively, evaluated the merits of each submission. As a result of this evaluation process, only one bidder qualified for the next step of the review process where the bid price was revealed.

The article correctly notes the wastewater treatment technology proposed by the lead proponent is provided by Noram.

Unfortunately, the article then inaccurately reported on technology and financial issues. I would like to identify, and hopefully clarify, these inaccuracies.

Contrary to comments provided by the Yukon News, there are numerous “deep shaft” wastewater treatment systems in operation in Canada and other countries. One of the attractive features of this technology is that it has been tested and utilized in cold regions and also in municipalities with larger and smaller populations than Dawson City.

Quotes in the article attributed to Virden, Manitoba’s manager of works and utilities on some technical measures of wastewater purity appear to be in error, or are at least using some unknown unit of measure.

One quote reads: “the total fecal coliform count should be around 30 É Virden’s is at 9,000 É”. In this area, the public should be informed the current regulatory limits are 20,000 MPN/100 millilitres (MPN refers to “most probable number”). In addition, the quote, “total suspended solids is even worse É the average is 40 to 60, we’re at 110,000,” is difficult to interpret.

Dawson City’s current outgoing effluent, which receives only preliminary screening treatment, averages about 20 mg/L of total suspended solids (TSS), and peaks at about 36 mg/L in the summer. It is difficult to conceive of a system that would increase TSS. Any facility constructed in Dawson will meet the new TSS requirements established by the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment, which is 25 mg/L.

The article quotes Homer, Alaska officials who state: “It works very well” and “It meets our fecal and total suspended solids (standards) easily.” The deep shaft wastewater treatment system in Homer was quoted as costing the municipality $524,000 last year.

This figure should not be assumed to be comparable to what Dawson’s facility will cost, as there are important differences between the two locations, including population sizes, the distribution systems that are part of the wastewater infrastructure and how water and wastewater treatment costs are combined.

The project team includes staff from Dawson City and the Yukon government and has kept an open mind in assessing potential mechanical and lagoon solutions for Dawson. Our objective is to ensure a sustainable and appropriate solution for Dawson is put in place as expediently as possible and we’re confident both Yukon and Dawson taxpayers will be satisfied with the outcome.

We have not yet signed a contract with any proponent for the construction of a wastewater treatment facility and will provide further information concerning project progress at additional public meetings in Dawson in May.

Updated information can always be found on the project website: www.dawsonwastewater.ca.

Catherine Harwood, engineer and project manager

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Then Old Crow MLA Darius Elias speak’s in the community centre in Old Crow in 2016. Elias died in Whitehorse on Feb. 17. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)
Condolences shared for former Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias

Elias is remembered as a proud parent, hockey fan and politican

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

(Submitted)
History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

(File photo)
RCMP arrest Saskatchewan murder suspect

Yukon RCMP have arrested a man suspected of attempted murder from outside… Continue reading

Most Read