Dirty Little Seceret

17 02 2013

Ísafjörður dumps RAW sewage into the fjord. There is no treatment plant in town, just primary screening.

There are 10 such sewer outflows around the isthmus.

There are 10 such sewer outflows around the isthmus.

Okay, so it is really not that bad. Consider the following facts from the Municipal Plan

  • Sewage pipes lead directly to ocean, only primary screening
  • Tidal mixing sufficiently dilutes the pollutants
  • Ocean naturally treats the waste
  • From residential receive organic matter, nutrients and bacteria.
  • About 90% of organic material in wastewater from industry and 10% from households
  • More stringent than EU standards, eligible for Blue Flag status
  • Level of E. coli is within guidelines for recreation
  • Aim for double sewer system in all districts

A potential problem…

  • Industry additionally produces a variety of other materials, materials such as oil, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants

There is also the case of Victoria, BC. The core area municipalities of the Capital Regional District discharge screened liquid waste (99.9% water) through two deep ocean outfalls into the ocean currents of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This engineered sewage disposal system takes advantage of a unique set of conditions (well oxygenated marine tidal waters) to treat the sewage naturally. Extensive monitoring over more than 30 years has shown no measurable risk to human health, and no significant harm to the marine environment.
The judgment of more than ten marine scientists is that land based secondary sewage treatment is a low priority for protecting the marine environment. The judgment of six medical health officers is that there is no significant public health risk to the existing system. While there is strong public support for a sewage treatment plant, the specialists don’t recommend the costly action!

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