The West Coast will share an absence of sewage treatment this winter.
Ucluelet has received a bypass permit from the Ministry of Environment to discharge raw sewage from the outfall of its sewage lagoon for a maximum of six weeks.
The district discovered a seepage issue at one of the lagoon’s four cells back in June and budgeted roughly $150,000 for repairs. As was reported in the Westerly News, repairs include emptying all four cells and upgrading their lining.
“These are clay-lined, bunker-style lagoons built in the early 1980’s,” district CAO Andrew Yeates explained when the work was announced. “There’s new systems out today that they didn’t have 40 years ago so it will be a polymer fused lining that will cover all of them and we probably won’t have any problems again for many, many, decades.”
The district’s superintendent of public works Warren Cannon told the Westerly News on Thursday that the lagoon would be out of commission for roughly six weeks, meaning Ucluelet will be without sewage treatment.
“For four to six weeks it won’t go through its process up there. It will go directly into our outfall,” he said. “It would be no different than Victoria or other communities that don’t have any treatment process at all yet.”
The lagoon was expected to be offline Nov. 1 but Cannon said the schedule has been pushed back.
“As of right now we have not started,” he said. “In terms of the project itself we’re at the final stages of finalizing the construction of a pipe needing to be constructed to bypass the system.”
He said the work done to date has not had a negative environmental impact.
“We’ve been continuously testing and test results are showing we’re not having an impact even as of today,” he said.
He encourages anyone interested in the project to monitor the district’s website at www.ucluelet.ca.
“As the process continues, we’ll be putting up postings there,” he said.
Based on a recommendation from the Pacific Region Interdepartmental Shellfish Committee, the Ministry of Environment has announced an emergency closure of Ucluelet Inlet and outside waters as the area’s bivalve shellfish may become contaminated.
“Once repair work to the sewage lagoons has been completed and the raw sewage discharge has ceased, the Emergency Closure shall remain in place a minimum of 21 days at which time the Pacific Region Interdepartmental Shellfish Committee will advise Fisheries and Oceans Canada if changes to the status of the Emergency Closure are warranted,” according to the announcement.
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques told the Westerly the lagoon work was needed.
“The seepage issue caused us to do some major repairs,” she said adding the lack of sewage treatment is temporary.
“It’s going into our sewer outfall pipe, which runs all the way to the end of the inlet. So, it’s not right in our harbour or anything like that and it’s just a temporary thing while we fix up our sewer lagoons.”