Researchers say midnight sun may break down waste

Scientists from Dalhousie University studying how Arctic climate affects sewage treatment in Nunavut say they believe the extra daylights hours speeds up sewage treatment.

Scientists believe the extra daylight hours speeds up sewage treatment in Nunavut

Researchers from Dalhousie University are starting to understand how the Arctic climate affects sewage treatment and they believe the midnight sun helps reduce waste.

Rob Jamieson is the principal investigator with the Nunavut Wastewater Research Project. He said early results show that extra daylight hours have a positive effect on the algae that breaks down waste.

"Where you have the systems that are essentially exposed to 24-hour sunlight, you see these almost super-charged algae populations that are present within these lagoons that are continuously pumping oxygen into the wastewater, which is having a lot of positive benefits in terms of treatment," he said.

Most Nunavut communities use lagoons or wetlands to treat their waste, letting nature filter out the bacteria and toxins. But, Environment Canada is introducing stricter rules around wastewater treatment.

Jamieson says the existing systems compare favourably with those found throughout rural Canada. But depending on the results of the research, and the new regulations, Nunavut may need to upgrade its systems.

The Nunavut Wastewater Research Project is in the second year of assessing the quality of treatment systems in Nunavut.  Researchers are studying a handful of communities. The Nunavut Government is covering part of the cost.

The projects runs until 2015.