“It’s a nice city, but it smells.”

 

That’s the impression Halifax tourists were likely left with this summer, Coun. Linda Mosher (Purcell’s Cove-Armdale) said yesterday, but if the recovery plan for the city’s sewage plant unfolds as planned, visitors should walk away with more pleasant memories of the city next summer.

 

Halifax Water officials told city council last night they’ve reached “a significant milestone in recovery efforts” for the wastewater treatment facility that broke down earlier this year, with five refurbished pumps and other equipment in place and sewage to soon be diverted through the system in phases.

 

“If things go well with the wet commissioning that we’re doing this week - in other words introducing fresh water into the plant and making sure the pumps are all working before we open the gates - we could introduce sewage as early as next week,” general manager Carl Yates told reporters after last night’s council meeting.

Yates said there may be some additional stench as wastewater starts to flow through the plant again, but emphasized that will quickly dissipate.

"Remember, when the plant was operating last year, you did not have any significant smells in the Cogswell Street interchange, so our intention is to bring it back to that same ambient air quality,” he said.

The five refurbished sewage pumps are only for short-term use, he said, explaining they’ll be replaced by new pumps coming from Germany at a cost of $2 million.

“We’re looking for long-term performance of the pumps,” he said. Other improvements include replacing control panels and sensors in the wet well and moving them to street level and staffing the plant 24 hours a day, a decision Yates said was made before January’s major malfunction.

The philosophy behind design changes, he said, is essentially the question: “What would you do if sewage came up in this wet well again?’ ”

Insurance is expected to cover the cost, although Yates couldn't yet put a price tag on the total claim.