Whitehorse discharges treated sewage into Yukon River annually

Every fall, the City of Whitehorse releases a year's worth of wastewater into the Yukon River.

'When we actually discharge, it's very high quality water,' says city manager

This is one of the lagoons at the Livingstone Trail Sewage Lagoon facility. Wastewater settles in primary and secondary ponds before going into the long-term holding pond. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Every fall, the City of Whitehorse release a year's worth of wastewater into the Yukon River from its sewage lagoon to make room for new inflows.

Even though the equivalent of eight Olympic swimming pools of wastewater may be released every day during the discharge period, which runs until December 15 this year, Whitehorse's manager of water and waste services says it has very little impact.

Dave Albisser, manager of water and waste services for the City of Whitehorse, says the treated wastewater released into the Yukon River has little impact. (Mardy Derby/CBC)
"When we actually discharge, it's very high quality water," says Dave Albisser. "We're way below our required minimums for parameters like suspended solids."

The water doesn't go straight from toilets and sewers into the river. Wastewater is collected and moved from primary to secondary storage ponds in the Livingstone Trail Sewage Lagoon. Its final stage before being released into the river is the long-term pond, which can hold a year's worth of wastewater.

The wastewater is released in the fall because most of the treatment happens in the summer, says Albisser. That's when nutrients in the water get used up and it contains the fewest contaminants and solids. 

This is where treated wastewater is released into the Yukon River. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Built for growth

The sewage lagoon is about 20 years old but was built with population estimates in mind, Albisser says.

He says it should be able to accommodate the growth of areas like Whistle Bend, since the long term storage pond is only using about two-thirds of its six million cubic metre capacity.

"So we do have a bit of room yet," Albisser says.


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