Ross River lagoon leaking ammonia

A Ross River sewage facility that has been awaiting replacement since 2003 is now leaking ammonia at nearly twice the allowable rate, according to a recent report.

A Ross River sewage facility that has been awaiting replacement since 2003 is now leaking ammonia at nearly twice the allowable rate, according to a recent report.

The report shows that ammonia was measured twice last August, at 39 and 40 milligrams per litre. The highest level allowed by the site’s water licence is 20 mg/L. All groundwater testing near the site found that the ammonia was within the allowed limit.

According to the World Health Organization, high levels of ammonia is an important indicator of faecal contamination.

“The groundwater monitoring would appear to suggest that it is coming from the septic pit … It’s common to see a certain amount of ammonia leaching from a wastewater treatment facility,” said Dwayne Muckosky, Yukon’s director of community operations and programs.

Even though it may be common, the Department of Community Services is working with the “appropriate regulatory agencies,” to fix it and come back into compliance with the water licence, he said, adding that it poses no risk to the community’s water supply.

“Public health and safety is the most important consideration for us. We’re working with the water board and all affected stakeholders, we’re working collaboratively to develop a plan to move forward,” he said.

When the water licence was issued in 2003, it required that a new sewage lagoon be built by 2005. That still has not happened, but Community Services is working on it that, too, Muckosky said.

“That’s what we’re working towards now. We’ve hired a consultant and an engineering firm that’s helping us develop options. There were options that were looked at in the early 2000s, but there was some concern about the location that had been identified for a new sewage lagoon,” Muckosky said.

The report, which looked into water quality and testing at the sewage disposal facility and community water supply well in Ross River, found that, in addition to the leaking ammonia, no engineering inspection or sludge measurements had been done at the sewage pit in 2011, even though the water licence requires that both be done annually.

“We didn’t fulfill all the reporting requirements last year, but we’re working with the appropriate regulatory agencies to bring ourselves into compliance. We’re mostly looking forward to building infrastructure to bring ourselves into compliance with that licence,” Muckosky said.

Brad Cathers, who received the Community Services portfolio on Monday, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Contact Jesse Winter at

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

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read