Halifax Regional Water Commission has hired a forensics team to find out where the city’s new sewage treatment system went wrong, Mayor Peter Kelly said yesterday.


But he said HRM hopes taxpayers won’t be covering the more than $400,000 tab because the city is claiming the costs under its insurance plan for the $54-million wastewater facility -- which opened in February 2008 and shut down last January because of a flood.


The plant suffered another recent setback last week when the water commission started to remove screens from sewage outfalls. That means condoms, tampons and other untreated “floatables” are flowing back into Halifax Harbour.


“We are going to claim for any element that we can,” the mayor said at city hall, following a closed door meeting about the sewage situation.


But Kelly couldn’t tell reporters what was discussed during the in-camera council session, which ate up a large chunk of the afternoon. “The reason why it was (in-camera) was because of legal elements of discussion.”

He said the forensics company should determine what caused the breakdown within two weeks. Not even city officials know how the harbour mishap happened, he said.

In the meantime, he said the municipality is doing its “due diligence” by looking at any alternative ways to stop solid waste from entering Halifax waters, and plans to meet with its insurance company within a week.

Also yesterday, city councillors voted to defer debate over HRMByDesign for two weeks.

Coun. Jerry Blumenthal, who represents Halifax North End, made the motion but not every councillor was in favour of rescheduling discussion about the proposed urban blueprint.

“I opposed that,” Coun. Debbie Hum of Rockingham-Wentworth told reporters outside council chambers. “There have been members of public here all afternoon, waiting, and I thought it was very unfair.”