Operating costs of Dawson City’s problem prone wastewater treatment plant remain murky

Yukon's Department of Community Services is looking for someone to figure out how much it's going to cost to keep running Dawson's problem-prone wastewater treatment plant.

Yukon’s Department of Community Services is looking for someone to figure out how much it’s going to cost to keep running Dawson’s problem-prone wastewater treatment plant.

A tender, asking for a breakdown of the operations and maintenance costs of the plant and predictions for the next 20 years, was issued by the government on Wednesday.

“Estimates of the cost to operate and maintain the WWTP (wastewater treatment plant) have varied widely throughout design, construction, and operation to date,” the document says.

The plant, built and run by Corix, has struggled to meet its water licence requirements. While it got up and running in 2012, February 2015 was the first time the plant had three consecutive months of meeting those standards.

By February of this year, Dawson gave up on taking over the plant. The territorial government said it would be in charge once the warranty on the place runs out in 2017.

The Yukon government admits the plant isn’t working the way it was meant to. It struggles particularly in the summer months, Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said in February.

No one seems to know for sure what’s wrong. One report has suggested two options for fixing things with price tags that range between $5 million and $10 million.

This latest report won’t tackle that problem. Instead it will focus on how much it costs to run the facility.

Those estimates have been all over the place. In February a representative for the Department of Community Services said the operations and maintenance costs were around $94,000 a month. That’s more than $1 million annually.

Dawson City has a population of about 1,300 people.

In the legislative assembly last month Dixon confirmed a cost of $2.4 million a year was “in the neighbourhood.” Back when the plant was announced, the government said it would cost about $340,000 a year to run.

The new tender would also see the cost of Dawson’s plant compared with wastewater treatment plants in other jurisdictions.

The tender closes June 8. The government is hoping to have the report completed by October.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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