Work will begin this year on the Charlottetown Harbour clean-up even if the federal government is slow coming to the table.

Water and sewer utility committee chair Coun. Eddie Rice delivered that message to city council Monday night. "We'll be definitely moving forward this year to get the thing started," said Rice.

"It's sad that it wasn't started in the last five or six years but it is going to be started. Council has put it as a priority, so I cannot see any reason why it will be held back."

Last year the federal Environment Department ordered the City of Charlottetown to clean up the harbour after higher than acceptable levels of fecal coliform were found in the water.

The problem lies in an outdated section of the city's sewer system, where the storm and sanitary sewers are combined. In heavy rains the sewage treatment plant is overwhelmed, and untreated sewage flows directly into the harbour.

It's expected to cost as much as $24 million and take three years to complete the fix.

The province and city are committed to covering two-thirds of the cost, but the city had been waiting to see if the federal government would cover the remaining amount.