Ross River has a new fire hall and water treatment plant.
Both are housed in a new $7-million public works building, paid for jointly by the governments of Canada and Yukon.
“This facility is a significant step forward for infrastructure in Ross River,” said Brad Cathers, minister of community services, in a press release. “It improves public safety and delivers on this government’s pledge to upgrade drinking water treatment facilities in Yukon communities to meet new standards for water quality.”
The new water treatment system brings Ross River in line with both Canadian and Yukon standards and regulations.
“It’s providing a very safe source of drinking water for the community of Ross River,” said Dwayne Muckosky with the Department of Community Services. “It’s a very modern facility. It’s got quite a bit of automated equipment to ensure the safety of the water supply.”
The facility is treating the water for “esthetic levels of iron, manganese, and arsenic,” he said.
In 2006, Canada updated its drinking water standards and cut the allowable levels of naturally occurring arsenic in half, said Bonnie Venton Ross, spokesperson for Community Services.
Many of the recent upgrades to water treatment facilities across the territory were in response to that change, she said.
Installation of the new facility puts Ross River well within the grace period for meeting the new guidelines, said Venton Ross.
“The previous facility was drawing from the same well,” said Muckosky. “Basically, we were chlorinating the water, but not treating to the extent that this new plant is treating. Now, just to clarify, the minerals that we’re treating for are not at a level that would pose a health risk to the community. It’s basically esthetic levels. It speaks basically to how good the water tastes.”
The new plant tests the water quality coming out on a constant basis, and can be monitored remotely from Whitehorse, said Muckosky.
“Say for example, if the chlorine example was to be off the mark, the plant would shut itself down.”
While the water quality going into Ross River homes may now be meeting the highest standards, issues remain with what comes out.
Under a 2003 water licence, the Yukon government agreed to decommission the old sewage lagoon and build a new one. That has yet to be done.
The sewage lagoon has been leaking ammonia at twice the allowable rate, according to a recent report.
An independent consultant has been hired to look at options for upgrading or replacing the sewage lagoon, said Muckosky.
“The assessments are ongoing. In the coming months we expect to be engaging with folks in the community, including Ross River Dena Council, to review the findings of the consultant and look at the options.”
Before the consultant makes recommendations as to the different options, it is impossible to say when the sewage lagoon will be replaced or what it will cost, said Muckosky.
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