The Yukon government has requested another extension for the new sewage plant in Dawson City.
In 2003, the Yukon territorial court ordered a new sewage plant be built after the municipality was charged, under the Fisheries Act, for pumping sewage into the Yukon River.
The charges came from August 2000, when enforcement officers went into the sewage treatment plant with some rainbow trout.
After about four days of being exposed to the treated sewage, at least half of the rainbow trout died.
The court ordered the city to have a new plant built by December 31, 2004.
That was extended until 2008 after it was discovered the technology the government was installing would not work for the Klondike town, said Catherine Harwood, project manager with Highways and Public Works.
Another extension was given until December 2011 when it was discovered the plant could not be built at the location the territory had picked.
Now, cold weather has delayed the project again.
The project has been “unusual,” said Jim Lloyd, spokesman for Vancouver-based Corix Water Systems, which is building the plant.
He mentioned the human remains dug up in November.
All the delays pushed the schedule back and, by the time they were ready to lay concrete, the ground was frozen, said Lloyd.
“We’re not off by much,” said Harwood. “We’re projecting to be operating in March, so we’re talking weeks, not months. And the court was open to that. The judge said, ‘You made excellent progress. You’re doing everything you can to keep going quickly, like 12-hour shifts, seven days a week and busy crews on site.’ So he was open to (the extension).”
The extension to May 31 has not been granted yet. The judge is expected to impose a new deadline at a hearing next month.
Despite delays, the project is almost on budget.
The project is now going to cost about $25.5 million, up from $24.9 million. The money has gone to some spare pumps ($30,000 to $40,000), main force pipe valves ($11,000), a truck-dumping station for all the off-grid but in-town residents ($300,000 to $400,000) and a heat-recovery pipe ($200,000), said Harwood.
In the meantime, Dawson City is still pumping sewage into the river.
After going through a glorified strainer, the solid waste is brought to the landfill and the liquid waste goes into the river. It is tested monthly, said Harwood.
Once the plant gets up and running, sewage will fall into a deep shaft, before taking the exact same path.
“As it’s pumped into the shaft, basically compressed air goes through and creates the biological reaction, which ends up treating the sludge and so on,” said Lloyd.
After that, the solid waste will be trucked to the landfill and the treated liquid will flow into the river, he added.
Corix Water Systems’ sister company, Corix Utilities, will be brought in for a year after the plant starts up to ensure everything runs smoothly and that locals are trained to keep it that way.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at