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A poo-trid situation: Crews working to unclog wastewater pump of wipes

By Skye Bryden-Blom Aug 3, 2022 | 4:34 PM

Halifax Water says emergency repairs at its Duffus Street wastewater pump station are complete.

However, crews are experiencing another problem. Wipes and rags quickly clogged up the pump while running tests.

Communications Manager Jeff Myrick tells our newsroom work continues to keep the pump clear with more testing required.

The wastewater pump failure resulted in screened but untreated wastewater being released into Halifax Harbour. Haligonians have been asked to avoid swimming there and any other rec activities that could lead to contact with the water.

Myrick says the wastewater is still flowing into the harbour.

“I will say that we did have the emergency pump replaced last night. As soon as we actually put it into service it got quickly overwhelmed with rags and wipes,” Myrick explains. “We’ve had to shut it down and clean out the screens and the pump so that we can start the testing of this system again.”

He adds the utility is trying to educate the public that the only things that should get flushed are the 3 P’s – pee, poo, and paper. Myrick explains it’s no easy task to carry out the repair work as the pump is located 80-90 feet underground. He adds logistically it’s difficult to even get the pump back into the tunnel where it needs to be.

Myrick says screened means the wastewater is filtered for solids that are non-organic, like bags and wipes that somehow get into the storm and wastewater system.

However, the water cannot be treated for bacteria. He says customers are being asked to reduce their flushing and how much they pour down the drain to help mitigate the flow.

Myrick isn’t sure how much effluent has leaked into the Halifax Harbour at this time

Flushable wipes belong in your garbage, Myrick reminds us.

“They play havoc on our system,” He explains. “They clog up our wastewater treatment facilities, their filters, and of course the pumping stations.

Haligonians will be notified when the pump is back up and running again. Myrick apologizes for any inconvenience it has caused.

**With files from Anastasia Payne.


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