Dawson sewage plant problems persist

The Dawson wastewater treatment plant is still failing water quality tests. The facility has been plagued with problems since in opened in 201.

The Dawson wastewater treatment plant is still failing water quality tests.

The facility has been plagued with problems since in opened in 2012. Operations of the plant had been scheduled to be handed over to the City of Dawson in 2013, but still have not been because of the outstanding problems.

Samples taken on March 25 failed water quality tests, according to a report filed with the town in April. This is particularly concerning because the load on the system will increase dramatically as tourists begin to show up in a month or two.

“The toxicity test passed although one of the fish died which is unusual for March when our wastewater is normally dilute,” according to the report. “Clearly the plant is not compliant with our water licence even in March. It should prove interesting to see what the results will look like in May and June. There are many construction deficiencies left outstanding such as valving problems, concrete liner failure and ventilation.

“It is possible that both the territorial and federal regulatory authorities will become more aggressive now that the plant has proven to be non-compliant with our water licence in both winter and summer.”

Klondike MLA and Liberal Leader Sandy Silver asked about the outstanding problems in the legislature Monday.

He wanted to know if the Yukon government would help out if operations costs turn out to be higher than projections suggest.

“Earlier this year, officials from the minister’s department put the operating cost to run this new facility at $340,000. People I’ve spoken to in Dawson think that this number might be a little bit unrealistic and don’t believe that the amount will even cover the fuel bill, let alone operations of the facility.”

Dawson Mayor Wayne Potoroka confirmed in an email that the town expects the facility to cost $872,440 annually in operating costs. Heat and electricity costs alone are expected to run $365,000.

Community Services Minister Brad Cathers confirmed that the Yukon government will continue to work with Dawson to ensure that the facility is affordable.

“If the costs of operating the facility turn out to be significantly higher than anticipated, we have a commitment to work with the City of Dawson around that financial sustainability provision,” he said in the legislature Monday.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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