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Globe & Mail gets Halifax sewage wrong

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sewage_plant.jpg
The Globe & Mail rather lamely tries to connect Halifax's failed sewage plant situation to the passing by of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/No Show Bill:
The hurricane barrelling down on Halifax this weekend promises to bring the glimmer of a silver lining to more than just the surfers eagerly awaiting big swells. Coming after a stretch of dry and atypically warm weather, the rains should also spell relief by temporarily flushing out the big sewage pipe that has left a nasty stench in parts of the downtown.

The persistent reek, caused by effluent turning septic after resting too long in a pipe that runs beneath the city, has resisted attempts at masking it and angered some business owners reliant on the waterfront tourist trade.

Described as ranging from “putrid” to “not too bad,” the smell hangs in the air as a foul reminder of the catastrophic malfunction that set back Halifax's sewage-treatment plans by more than a year.

A local power failure in January caused an escalating series of problems at the new plant. One of the backup generators couldn't handle the load and shut itself down. But the gate on the main pipe bringing effluent to the plant wasn't quite closed. The barrier couldn't be closed manually and raw sewage filled the below-ground portion of the facility.

I say "lamely" because while it's true that the plant failure was (in part) related to the gate between the big pipe (really a tunnel) and the plant, the tunnel/pipe now has nothing whatsoever to do with the smell on the waterfront, and no matter how much rainfall Bill brings, none of it will run into the pipe leading to the sewer plant..

It's clear the author of the piece is passingly familiar with my work, but he should read it a bit more closely.(see here and here) If so, he'd learn that since Jan. 14, our sewage has been diverted through eight combined sewage overflows leading directly into the harbour, before it reaches the big pipe leading to the plant.

It is true, that like every other time it rains, whatever rain Bill brings will serve to dilute the raw sewage in the harbour, and therefore the smell on the shore, but the "persistent reek" is not at all "caused by effluent turning septic after resting too long in a pipe that runs beneath the city." That's simply wrong. There is no back-up of sewage anywhere in the system, "turning septic." And the day after Bill passes, we'll be right back to the same degree of foul smell we had the day before Bill arrived.

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