Solid waste will be flowing freely into the Halifax Harbour for an indefinite period.
Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Peter Kelly confirmed Thursday evening HRM’s water commission is, or will be, removing screens to keep solid waste from flowing into the harbour.
Wastewater has been flowing into the harbour since January when a flood at the Halifax facility caused a power outage and put the $54-million facility out of commission. The plant isn’t scheduled to re-open until next spring.
Now solids, also referred to as “floatables,” will be doing the same.
“Is it the perfect situation? Absolutely not,” Kelly said.
He said when the sewage plant became inoperable, eight sewage screens were used at outfall stations to keep solid waste out of the harbour. He said four screens were removed recently and another four will be gone within the next week because they aren’t meant to be a long-term fix.
“It just became impractical to try and continuosly clean them and have the screens running continuosly,” James Campbell, spokesperson for the Halifax Harbour Solutions Project, told CBC. “The decision was made that rather than risk damaging the machinery, to remove the screens.”
Kelly said there “may be options to explore” for alternatives to keep the solid waste out, but didn’t know if the timeframe or economics would make that plausible.
Council was most recently briefed about the possibility of the screens coming down this week, and Kelly received an e-mail at 1:55 p.m. Thursday they would be removed.
The story broke through a CBC TV report Thursday night, something Kelly said “could have been dealt with in a more proactive basis,” but that it was under control of the water commission.
With a summer packed full of major events this summer, including the Tall Ships Festival in mid-July, the timing of this news isn’t ideal.
“We’ll just have to deal with it like we did for the 250-plus years that we didn’t have the screens on,” Downtown Halifax Coun. Dawn Sloane conceded.