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Halifax harbour clean-up nears reality

The Halifax Regional Municipality has at last approved plans to go ahead with projects to clean up its harbour. On...


The Halifax Regional Municipality has at last approved plans to go ahead with projects to clean up its harbour. On October 1, the council authorized the mayor to sign the projects agreements which will see the building of three new sewage treatment plants and a sludge management facility over the next 10 years.
At present the harbour, a deepwater, ice-free port, is polluted by over 150 million litres of untreated water and sewage per day. As a result of the discharge large areas of contaminated sediment float around about 40 outfalls. The contamination is bad enough that shellfish harvesting is prohibited.
The new $260 million works to clean up the water entering the harbour will be built over the next 10 years. A consortium known as the Halifax Regional Environmental Partnership (HREP) was selected to design, build and operate the facilities. It includes about 17 companies, including Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, United Water Services Canada, as well as engineers Porter Dillon, Harbour Engineering and CBCL. Another consortium that had unsuccessfully competed for the project included CH2M Waterworks, Parsons Brinckerhoof Quade and Douglas, W.H. Gates Utility Consultants, and S. McNally & Sons.
The Halifax Region is set to receive one third of the funding for the new plants from the federal government and the province. As well, it is proposing to raise financing through a surcharge on water bills. In a survey, over 60% of the citizens said they were willing to pay an extra $100 or more annually to cover the clean up.
The region has already reached agreement with the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment regarding effluent standards, and has now initiated the federal environmental assessment process. One treatment plant will be located north of downtown Halifax, between Upper Water and Barrington Streets. Another will be on the Canadian Coast Guard base in Dartmouth, and the third will be in the Herring Cove Area, on a site still to be determined.
Efforts to get the harbour clean-up projects moving have been going on for decades. In 1998, for example, Jacques Whitford Environment and R.V. Anderson prepared a concept plan for advanced level primary treatment for all untreated discharges.