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"Floatables" have turned up in the Northwest Arm. At the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, beginning sailors are led away from the sewage pipes. ((CBC))

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has apologized for the failed sewage treatment plant that has turned the harbour into an open sewer again.

In a speech Thursday to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Kelly called  the situation a "bitter disappointment."

He said he is "taking full responsibility" for the problem and he'll do everything he can to get the plant operating again as soon as possible while at the same time protecting the interests of taxpayers.

The $54-million plant near the Halifax waterfront broke down in January after a power outage. Since then, more than 80 million litres of raw sewage has been flowing into the harbour every day.

Regional council is expected to get a look at a preliminary report into the cause of the breakdown at another closed-door meeting later this month.

Kelly acknowledged a failure in communicating with the public about what went wrong and what was being done about it.

"We haven't done a great job of communicating, and for that I apologize. We will strive to do better, and this file is not going to be dropped until it is fully dealt with," he told the business audience.

Municipal officials expect the sewage treatment plant will be fixed by next spring.

Kelly said once the facility is back online, the harbour will be cleaner than ever. He noted that the Dartmouth sewage treatment plant is working and the plant in Herring Cove is scheduled to begin operating later this year.

He vowed to take another swim in the harbour.

"Both beaches at the Black Rock and the Dingle will be open again next year," Kelly said.

The Halifax plant is a key part of the $332-million Halifax Harbour Solutions project. After it opened, Kelly celebrated the drop in bacteria counts by reopening the two beaches last summer.